Sunday, November 06, 2005

Medical errors in U.S. lead in poll

Ho Hum! We don't count illness and death from MRSA or bureaucratic denial of life-saving drugs or waiting years for surgery as "errors", do we? In fact the less we treat patients the fewer "errors" we will make. And denying treatment is what socialized medicine is best at. Isn't that a good system?

Out-of-pocket medical expenses and medical errors were higher for patients in the United States than for those in countries that have state-funded health care systems, according to a new report. The study, which was released yesterday by the Commonwealth Fund, surveyed nearly 7,000 patients from March to June in the United States, Britain, Canada, Australia, Germany and New Zealand.

Roughly 34 percent of U.S. patients encountered a medical mistake in the past two years, followed by 30 percent of Canadian patients, said the New York health research organization, which promotes universal health care coverage through government and corporate initiatives.

A lack of coordination among health care providers, from hospitals to diagnostic laboratories, contributed to the error rate, said Cathy Schoen, an author of the study. "Many of those patients were seeing multiple physicians and taking four or more prescriptions," she said yesterday at an international health policy conference in Washington.

Additionally, 34 percent of U.S. patients paid more than $1,000 in out-of-pocket medical expenses in the past year while only 14 percent of Canadian and Australian patients paid that much in the same period, the report said.

The U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality said the effort to set up a nationwide electronic network of medical records may ease coordination problems and costs and reduce medical errors. "These records are likely to be very effective for some individuals," Dr. Carolyn Clancy, the federal agency's director, said at the conference.

While medical errors and out-of-pocket expenses were higher, more than half of U.S. patients received the appropriate care for chronic conditions like hypertension and diabetes.



For greatest efficiency, lowest cost and maximum choice, ALL hospitals and health insurance schemes should be privately owned and run -- with government-paid vouchers for the very poor and minimal regulation. Both Australia and Sweden have large private sector health systems with government reimbursement for privately-provided services so can a purely private system with some level of government reimbursement or insurance for the poor be so hard to do?

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