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The Grade of American Health Care: Still Failing

A new survey -- a sequel of sorts to a landmark 1999 report by the Institute of Medicine revealing the human toll that medical errors exact at U.S. hospitals -- has found Americans don't believe the nation's quality of health care has improved. In fact, 40 percent said health-care quality has gotten worse, while only 17 percent said it has improved. Overall, 55 percent are dissatisfied with the quality of care in this country, the survey revealed, an 11 percent climb over a similar question posed in a 2000 Gallup poll.

The numbers get a lot more interesting:

  • Forty-eight percent of people in the new survey said they were somewhat or very worried about the safety of medical care they and their family receive, whether from hospitals or any health-care provider.
  • Almost 75 percent cited health-care providers' workloads, stress and fatigue as a very important cause of medical errors.
  • People with chronic health conditions (50 percent) were much more likely than those who don't suffer from chronic illnesses (30 percent) to have experienced a medical error in their own care or a family member's care.

Possibly, the most maddening stat of all: 34 percent of adults said they or a family member have experienced a preventable medical error. Of that group, 70 percent reported their health provider did not tell them a mistake was made. And 88 percent said these admissions should be required. November 17, 2004

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