Compensation Claims in Danish Emergency Care: Identifying Hot Spots and Blind Spots in the Quality of Care

Lars Morsø*, Søren Birkeland, Sisse Walløe, Claire Gudex, Mikkel Brabrand, Kim L. Mikkelsen, Søren Bie Bogh

*Corresponding author for this work

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Background: The Healthcare Complaints Analysis Tool (HCAT) offers a validated way of systematically extracting content from patient complaints for further analysis of complaint hot spots with harm or near misses, and blind spots with, for example, systemic problems or quality problems arising during discharge. This study analyzed a Danish national sample of compensations claims about emergency care using the HCAT. Methods: Through use of the HCAT, compensation claims about Danish emergency care from 2013 to 2017 (N = 712) were coded and then grouped to identify and highlight hot spot problem areas (harm and near misses) and blind spot problem areas (admission/discharge, systemic problems, errors of omission). Two assessors coded the compensation claims by entering data into a database. Results: The HCAT analyses of the sample resulted in coding of 1,305 problems. Most problems concerned quality and safety issues at the examination/diagnosis stage of care (63.9%). In 91.2% of the cases, the level of harm was moderate or major. Harm hot spots most often involved diagnostic errors (189 problems). Eighty-nine problems related to errors of omission, all causing moderate or major harm. For systemic blind spots, patient harm significantly increased in cases of multiple problem types in the compensation claim (odds ratio = 1.6, 95% confidence interval = 1.3–2.0). Conclusion: Systematic coding and analytic approach to the HCAT can highlight potential quality problems in emergency care and point to areas for further consideration. From the perspective of future health care harm prevention, there seems to be a strong incentive for further analysis of the amount, nature, and prevention of diagnostic errors in emergency care.

Original languageEnglish
JournalThe Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)271-279
Publication statusPublished - May 2022


  • Delivery of Health Care
  • Denmark
  • Emergency Medical Services
  • Humans
  • Quality of Health Care


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