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

omparisons showing the U.S. lagging in health outcomes. The fact that other countries are reducing these preventable deaths more rapidly, yet spending far less, indicates that policy, goals, and efforts to improve health systems make a difference.

In 199798 the U.S. ranked 15th out of 19 countries on the mortality amenable to health care measure. However, by 200203 the U.S. fell to last place, with 109 deaths amenable to health care for every 100,000 people. In contrast, mortality rates per 100,000 people in the leading countries were: France (64), Japan (71), and Australia (71). The other countries included in the study were Austria, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

Study authors state that the measure of deaths amenable to health care is a valuable indicator of health system performance because it is sensitive to improved care, including public health initiatives. It considers a range of conditions from which it is reasonable to expect death to be averted even after the condition develops. This includes causes such as appendicitis and hypertension, where the medical nature of the intervention is apparent; it also includes illnesses that can be detected early with effective screenings such as cervical or colon cancer, and tuberculosis which, while acquisition is largely driven by socio-economic conditions, is not fatal when treated in a timely manner.

Cross-national studies conducted by The Commonwealth Fund indicate that our failure to cover all Americans results in financial barriers that are much more likely to prevent many U.S. adults from getting the care they need, compared with adults in other countries, said Commonwealth Fund President Karen Davis. While no one country provides a perfect model of care, there are many lessons to be learned from the strategies at work abroad.


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Contact: Mary Mahon
mm@cmwf.org
212-606-3853
London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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