U.S. Leads in Medical Errors

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Medical Errors

One-third of patients with health problems in the U.S. report experiencing medical, medication, or test errors, the highest rate of any nation in a new Commonwealth Fund international survey. Assessing health care access, safety, and care coordination in Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States, the survey found that while no one nation was best or worst overall, the U.S. stood out for high error rates, inefficient coordination of care, and high out-of-pocket costs leading to barriers to access to care.

The findings are published today in a Health Affairs article, "Taking the Pulse of Health Care Systems: Experiences of Patients with Health Problems in Six Countries," whose lead author is Commonwealth Fund Senior Vice President Cathy Schoen.

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"While the consistently high error rates and lack of coordination are disturbing, the findings also highlight the potential for each country to improve," said Fund President Karen Davis. "Some countries have been able to achieve timely access to needed care while reducing financial barriers. Each country could also gain through strategies to improve the quality and efficiency of care, such as implementing modern information technology systems, supporting patient engagement in care, and improving management of chronic conditions."

The 2005 survey of adults with health problems is the eighth in an annual series of cross-national surveys conducted by Harris Interactive for the Fund.

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