Health: Fewer deaths with treatments only in specialist clinics

According to an analysis, thousands of deaths from strokes and serious illnesses such as cancer can be avoided by treating patients only in specialized clinics.

Health: Fewer deaths with treatments only in specialist clinics

According to an analysis, thousands of deaths from strokes and serious illnesses such as cancer can be avoided by treating patients only in specialized clinics. A concentration with minimum quality standards offers "considerable potential" for better results, according to a report presented in Berlin by a government commission advising the Federal Ministry of Health. Because of the high density of hospitals in Germany, “no significant restrictions on accessibility would have to be accepted”.

Specifically, there is the potential to save more than 20,000 years of life annually for eleven types of cancer studied if all patients were treated in certified cancer centers, the statement said. So far, depending on the type of cancer, between 35 and 84 percent of patients have been treated there.

If only certified centers were allowed to treat cancer, the average accessibility for the population for colon, breast and prostate cancer would be less than or around 20 minutes. This would be "unchangedly excellent" compared to neighboring European countries, according to the analysis, which was initially reported by the "Süddeutsche Zeitung".

Lauterbach: Results confirm core of hospital reform

Health Minister Karl Lauterbach (SPD) said: "Quality saves lives." The results thus confirm the core of the planned hospital reform. "We need good basic care that can be reached quickly. But not every hospital has to offer every type of medical treatment." Complicated interventions should only be carried out in specialized clinics by very well qualified physicians. In return, the clinics would have to be well paid. The reform could save tens of thousands of lives a year, especially in the care of cancer and cardiovascular patients.

According to the analysis, in the case of strokes, there is the potential for almost 5,000 additional people to survive in the first year after a stroke - if all patients came to hospitals with special departments for quick care (stroke unit). In 2021 there were 328 locations nationwide with such a special station, but also another 1049 hospitals treated strokes. According to the information, data from the statutory health insurance funds, from quality reports from the hospitals and from medical registers and specialist societies were evaluated. Analyzes by health insurers have already shown the advantages of specialized treatments.

Commission: Patients die "earlier than necessary"

The head of the government commission, Tom Bschor, explained that under the current system, patients with stroke and cancer "are dying sooner than necessary because too many hospitals are performing these treatments". With its "uniquely high density of hospitals", Germany has ideal conditions for offering excellent care, even with a concentration on experienced clinics.

Lauterbach is aiming for more concrete proposals for the reform over the summer. The legal plans, which are also based on the recommendations of the commission, provide for nationwide quality criteria, as well as more precisely defined service areas for the hospitals with corresponding financing. In addition, the remuneration system with flat rates for treatment cases is to be changed in order to relieve hospitals from economic pressure. In order not to be dependent on more and more cases, they should receive a larger share of the remuneration simply for providing services. The next federal and state consultations on the reform concept are on June 29th.

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