Aim: We investigated the death circumstances among children in the Danish healthcare system by analysing closed claims.
Methods: This retrospective study investigated closed claims with regard to medically related deaths registered by the Danish Patient Insurance Association.
Results: From 1996 to 2008, 45 953 claims were made to the Danish Patient Insurance Association (DPIA) covering all medical specialties. Among these claims, a total of 3531 submitted claims were for children younger than 18 years old, and 74 of these children were registered as having died. Forty-one of the 74 deaths were caused by peripartum asphyxia or other birth-related reasons, and 33 children died of causes not related to their birth. Twenty-three of the 33 children died as a result of substandard treatment. This was the ruling of the DPIA or the courts of law on the claim. In these cases, the DPIA, the appeal board or the courts of law settled that an experienced specialist would have acted differently such that the injury could have been avoided.
Conclusion: Twenty-three of the 33 deaths after the perinatal period could potentially have been avoided if experienced specialists had handled the cases.