26.06.2023 – 12:50
Asklepios Kliniken GmbH & Co. KGaA
Commission alleges quality deficiencies in cancer, stroke and joint replacements “lurid, deficient and frightening” Striking timing: publication during the critical phase of the discussion on hospital reform
The government commission caused a stir with its fifth statement on the quality of treatment in German clinics. It states that if cancer cases were only treated in certified centers, strokes in specialized stroke units and endoprostheses (joint replacement) only in specialized clinics, thousands of deaths and revision surgeries could be avoided. “This statement is sensational and causes great fear among people,” criticizes Kai Hankeln, CEO of Asklepios Kliniken, the paper. “The publication assumes that hundreds of smaller clinics have a general quality problem,” Hankeln continued. “The Commission’s interpretation of the figures is simply inadequate at key points and leads to incorrect conclusions,” adds Priv.-Doz. dr medical Sara Sheikhzadeh, Chief Medical Officer (CMO) of the Asklepios Kliniken Group with more than 170 facilities nationwide and 3.5 million patients annually.
The experienced emergency doctor and medical director of the Asklepios clinics can put the accusation in more concrete terms using the example of strokes: “The figures presented are valid, but certain aspects were simplified in the statement or are even inadmissible.” There is agreement that an acute stroke should always be treated in a stroke unit (specialized stroke ward). However, it is unclear whether, in the data given for the smaller hospitals, stroke was always the leading diagnosis or even the diagnosis at admission to the hospital. Or they were patients who were otherwise seriously ill or severely demented, for whom the stroke was not the focus of treatment.
“It is precisely these patient groups that have the worst prognosis anyway and then influence the numbers,” explains Priv.-Doz. dr Sheikhzadeh. She also finds the section in the statement on travel times (“accessibility analyses”) worthy of discussion. Because only five to ten percent of patients require a so-called thrombectomy, in which a blood clot that is blocking the artery has to be removed by a neuroradiologist using a catheter. “A clinic without thrombectomy treatment should not be contrasted with the lack of specialized stroke treatment: many specialized stroke units do not have the option of thrombectomy, but the patients still receive highly qualified treatment,” emphasizes Priv.-Doz. dr Sheikhzadeh.
Asklepios also expresses equally clear criticism of the Commission’s vision that the hospital reform demanded by Minister Lauterbach will improve the treatment of cancer patients in the future. “The underlying data comes from 2009 – 2017 and only insufficiently reflects the current supply situation,” says Priv.-Doz. dr Sheikhzadeh. “The clinics themselves have long been in the process of improving the quality of treatment, for example through a wide range of specializations and certifications of specialist departments, centers and clinics. The reform plans do not create any additional benefits in this respect,” says the Asklepios Management Board member.
And further: “People don’t gain more years of life just because Lauterbach’s reform forces the closure of hundreds of clinics and creates new bureaucracy monsters. It is more important to finally improve the pilot function of general practitioners and specialists, to better control emergency care and to advance decisive topics such as digitization, telemedicine and artificial intelligence without data protection further undermining these processes at the expense of healthcare,” says Priv.-Doz. dr Sheikhzadeh.
From Asklepios’ point of view, the timing of the published statement is also striking: “It’s really difficult not to see any connection here with the publicly discussed reform proposals of the Minister of Health, who question the existence of hundreds of smaller clinics,” says Asklepios CEO Hankeln. “After these plans were increasingly being discussed critically in the public and by associations and experts, Minister Lauterbach had the clinics closed with this statement, so to speak, ready for the storm, according to the motto: ‘The treatment there is bad anyway and it would be better to close it anyway'”, so jiggling on.
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Original content from: Asklepios Kliniken GmbH & Co. KGaA, transmitted by news aktuell