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New study: US ranks last among other industrialized nations on preventable deaths
Date:1/7/2008

January 8, 2008, Bethesda, MDThe United States places last among 19 countries when it comes to deaths that could have been prevented by access to timely and effective health care, according to new research supported by The Commonwealth Fund and published in the January/February issue of Health Affairs. While other nations dramatically improved these rates between 199798 and 200203, the U.S. improved only slightly.

If the U.S. had performed as well as the top three countries out of the 19 industrialized countries in the study there would have been 101,000 fewer deaths in the U.S. per year by the end of the study period. The top performers were France, Japan, and Australia.

In Measuring the Health of Nations: Updating an Earlier Analysis, Ellen Nolte and Martin McKee of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine compare trends in deaths that could have been prevented by access to timely and effective health care. Specifically, they looked at deaths amenable to health care before age 75 between 199798 and 200203.

Nolte and McKee found that while other countries made strides and saw these types of deaths decline by an average of 16%, the U.S. experienced only a 4% decline. It is notable that all countries have improved substantially except the U.S., said Nolte, lead author of the study. The authors also note that it is difficult to disregard the observation that the slow decline in U.S. amenable mortality has coincided with an increase in the uninsured population, an issue that is now receiving renewed attention in several states and among presidential candidates from both parties.

It is startling to see the U.S. falling even farther behind on this crucial indicator of health system performance, said Commonwealth Fund Senior Vice President Cathy Schoen. By focusing on deaths amenable to health care, Nolte and McKee strip out factors such as population and lifestyle differences that are often cited in response to interna
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Contact: Mary Mahon
mm@cmwf.org
212-606-3853
Commonwealth Fund
Source:Eurekalert

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