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U.S. patients suffer more medical errors

NEW YORK, Nov. 13 (UPI) -- Compared to seven other countries, U.S. patients suffer the highest medical errors, coordination problems and out-of-pocket costs, a non-profit report said.

The study by New York's The Commonwealth Fund, published as a Web exclusive in the journal Health Affairs, found that U.S. patients are significantly more likely to call for fundamental change in their country's healthcare system, with one-third saying the system needs to be rebuilt completely.

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The 2008 survey of 7,500 chronically ill patients in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Britain and the United States included adults who had a diagnosis of at least one of seven chronic conditions.

Fifty-four percent of U.S. chronically ill patients didn't get recommended care, fill prescriptions or see a doctor when sick because of costs; compared to 7 percent to 36 percent in other countries. About one-third of U.S. patients experienced medical errors or poorly coordinated care, including delays in access to medical records or duplicated tests. Forty-one percent of U.S. patients spent more than $1,000 in the past year on out-of-pocket medical costs, compared with 4 percent in Britain and 8 percent in the Netherlands

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U.S. chronically ill patients often experienced long waits to see primary care physicians, difficulty getting care after hours and often turned to emergency rooms for care.

The margin of error is approximately: 4 percentage points for Australia, New Zealand and the Netherlands; 3 percentage points for France, Germany and the United States and 2 percentage points for Canada.

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