Patients With Chronic Illnesses More Likely To Experience Medical Errors

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
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U.S. residents with chronic diseases are more likely to forgo medical care because of high costs and experience medical errors than residents of other nations with such conditions, according to a study published on Thursday in the journal Health Affairs, Reuters/Boston Globe reports. For the study, conducted by the Commonwealth Fund, researchers surveyed 7,500 adults, each of whom had at least one of seven chronic diseases -- high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, cancer, arthritis and depression. Participants included residents of Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Britain and the U.S.

Fifty-four percent of U.S. residents with chronic illnesses said that they did not receive recommended medical care, fill prescriptions or visit a physician at some point because of high costs, compared with 7% of participants in the Netherlands, the country with the lowest rate of foregone care. In addition, 41% of those in the U.S. said that they spent more than $1,000 on out-of-pocket medical costs last year, compared with lows of 4% in Britain and 5% in France, the study found.

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According to the study, one-third of U.S. residents with chronic illnesses said that they had experienced a medical or medication error, received incorrect laboratory test results or experienced delays in test results, the highest rate among participants in any nation involved in the research. Almost half those in the U.S. said that they wasted time because of disorganized care or had received care of limited or no value during the past two years, the study found.

Cathy Schoen, a researcher with the Commonwealth Fund, said, "In short, the U.S. patients are telling us about inefficient, unsafe and often wasteful care," adding, "The lack of access, combined with poorly coordinated care, is putting these patients at very high health risk and driving up costs of care" (Dunham, Reuters/Boston Globe, 11/13).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. © 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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