Medical Errors: U.S. Is Doing Better than Europe

A new study commissioned by the Business Roundtable (BRT) finds the U.S. health care system has reduced hospital medical errors faster than its trading partners. The study’s index of fatal U.S. hospital errors fell from 0.7 to 0.44 in 2007 — a decrease of 37 percent. Over the same time period, the G-5 average grew from .42 in 2003 to .52 in 2007, a nearly 24 percent increase.

Comments (11)

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  1. Ken says:

    Very interesting chart. I’ve never seen a comparison like this before.

  2. Vicki says:

    An international comparison in which we look better? I’m not surprised that I haven’t seen this anywhere else.

  3. Devon Herrick says:

    The study found U.S. Health Care System quality had improved; but also found costs were too high. A recent RAND study discussed how cost control efforts (if done badly) can reduce quality.

  4. artk says:

    I think the NCPA needs to take remedial reading classes. If you read the BRT study it discusses how the US healthcare system lags the rest of the world in every metric but we’re getting better. Considering the fact we pay a 50% greater share of GDP than the rest of the world we should by way ahead, not behind.

  5. John Goodman says:

    artk: We have adrressed some of those other metrics before, and found tham wanting, for example here:

    http://healthblog.ncpa.org/health-alert-why-cant-webe-more-like-them/

  6. Paul H. says:

    That is an interesting graph.

  7. Tom says:

    Regardless, Europe is prettier.

    ps. I just realized I’ve never ever heard artk say something nice. As a child, I was told I had to say 3 nice things for every 1 mean thing. Maybe he is very very very kind to his friends to make up for how he acts here.

  8. Neil H. says:

    It’s hard to believe that we were so much worse than the rest of the world only a few years ago.

  9. Virginia says:

    I just took a class on variation of medical outcomes. It’s a fascinating field that offers a lot of promise for, at minimum, controlling costs in the short term.

    One of the main ideas is that any error is unacceptable. You can’t say to yourself, “Mistakes happen,” because it effectively gives the medical profession an excuse for messing up.

    We’re made a lot of improvement, but there is still a long way to go!

  10. Linda Gorman says:

    I followed the link. It sent me to the 2010 BRT Health System Value Comparability Study.

    The data used to classify US medical errors appears to be “misadventures to patient during surgical/medical care” (Deaths per 100,000 population) from 2009 OECD Health Data.

    It would be nice to know what measures were actually used (catheter-realeted bloodstream infections, postoperative sepsis, foreign body left in during procedure etc.), as a report on the progress of the OECD Health Care Quality Indicators Project: Patient Safety Indicators Report 2009 explicitly says that “cross-country comparisions on patient safety are cautioned given that data presented in this working paper require further research and development.”

  11. Alexis says:

    While not directly related, this is interesting considering how much we hear bout the European version of the FDA being both more efficient and better. It seems that this could be another case of private enterprise generating successful outcomes (Euro vs. FDA approval rates), and government-run services’ shortcomings.