Treatment injury claims cost ACC $61m

A person who went into a Wellington medical facility for a biopsy and suffered a stroke has received $661,000 in compensation.

The patient topped a list of payouts made by ACC last year to victims of treatment injuries - including babies being injured because they were deprived of oxygen during birth.

Another stroke victim was paid $161,000 after they went in for spinal decompression treatment in Otago.

Strokes are mainly caused by blood clots shooting up to the brain and causing parts of it to die, Capital and Coast District Health Board neurologist David Abernethy said.

"About 13 per cent of people who have a stroke die but, more importantly, about half the people end up disabled and needing help from other people and they're the ones that cost a lot of money."

Figures released to The Dominion Post under the Official Information Act show the 10 most expensive treatment injury claims totalled $3.2 million in the last financial year.

A total of $61.3m was paid to 7832 people for treatment injuries in the same year.

Money is paid out for treatment, rehabilitation and compensation, which can include lost earnings, lump sums and death benefits.

The fifth-highest payout went to a person who was treated in central Auckland and was left a tetraplegic after cranial surgery, which resulted in a $241,000 payout.

Another payout, of $183,000, related to a Bay of Plenty patient who went in for spinal decompression and suffered paraplegia.

ACC refused to provide details on what type of medical facility the victims were in when they were injured.

"Specific details about the facility, hospital or GP clinic have not been provided, as there is a need to protect people's privacy."

It would provide only the district health board area where the treatment injury took place, what the patient was being treated for and what the injury was.

The second-highest payout, $652,000, related to a patient who suffered osteoporosis as a result of "medication dispensing" in central Auckland.

Three payouts were made for "delay in delivery" that caused hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, which means the babies were deprived of oxygen.

One of these cases resulted in a $362,000 payout - the third-highest last year - while the other two received $223,000 and $212,000.

A lack of oxygen getting from the placenta to the baby during labour can affect all organs, but especially the brain, according to information provided by Capital and Coast DHB.

Babies with severe hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy can die; some suffer long-term neurological problems, but most babies recover fully.


The 10 most costly ACC medical treatment claims: Stroke – $661,000 Osteoporosis – $652,000 Delay in delivery of baby/oxygen deprivation – $362,000 Abscess – $361,000 Tetraplegia – $241,000 Delay in delivery of baby/oxygen deprivation – $223,000 Delay in delivery of baby/oxygen deprivation – $212,000 Paraplegia – $183,000 Delay/failure to diagnose brain injury – $181,000 Stroke – $161,000 *Figures supplied by ACC for 2011/12 year

The Dominion Post