The Norwegian Patient Compensation System (NPCS) was started up in January 1988. By the end of 1999, a total of 15,552 complaints had been received. This paper reviews the outcome of the complaint procedures in the field of orthopaedics.
From 1993 to 1999, the NPCS assessed a total of 8,520 complaints of which 4,041 (47%) were in orthopaedics. On the basis of abstracts of these cases, we retrieved more detailed information.
Over the period, 39% of orthopaedic complaints resulted in compensation, with a decline from 45% in 1993 to 32% in 1999. 328 orthopaedic patients were awarded compensation on the basis of infection; they constituted 8% of all compensated claims and 21% of all compensated orthopaedic claims. These ratios remained fairly constant throughout the period. Compensation was given to 291 patients with loosening of prostheses following use of Boneloc cement; these cases represented 7% of all orthopaedics claims and 18% of all compensated claims. Complaints were most numerous in 1996 and 1997; this reflected the use of this cement in the early 1990s. Rejected complaints were appealed with increasing frequency; in 1999, 46% of all NPCS cases were appealed, 33% of all orthopaedic cases. Rejections overruled following appeal were within a range of 16% (1994) and 11% (1995). When initial rejections overruled on appeal are included, the total compensation-to-claims ratio increases from 39% to 41%.
The high number of complaints in orthopaedics probably reflects the high frequency of musculoskeletal disorders in the population. It is to be hoped that evaluation of treatment injuries will result in a higher quality of patient treatment.
Patients subjected to drug-related injuries can, in accordance with Norwegian legislation, seek compensation from the Norwegian System of Patient Injury Compensation (NPE). The aim of this study was to examine what drugs and injuries instigate claims against NPE, and how these cases are resolved.
We have assessed anonymised summaries of 992 consecutive indemnity applications received and evaluated by NPE over the period 2003-2009. We recorded the age and gender of applicants, treatment diagnosis, drugs implicated, outcome, and NPE's decision in each case.
A total of 964 claims were included. The most commonly implicated drugs were those affecting the nervous system (34.6%) and the musculoskeletal system (26.1%). Rofecoxib at 18.9% was the predominant single drug implicated. In two-thirds of the cases, adverse effects were given as the reason for the claim, whereas the last one-third consisted of claims for medication errors. The most common injuries were related to cardiovascular diseases (28.7%) or non-specific conditions (17.5%). 8.4% of the cases related to fatalities. In all, 26.3% of the claims resulted in compensations.
Few patients made use of the NPE. Most of the compensation claims in the years 2003-2009 involved rofecoxib and psychoactive drugs, and the majority of claims were rejected.