A study has come out showing how poor the United States does in addressing the issue of preventable deaths.
Researchers at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine tracked deaths that they deemed could have been prevented by access to timely and effective health care, and ranked nations on how they did.
To establish their rankings, deaths before age 75 from numerous causes, including heart disease, stroke, certain cancers, diabetes, certain bacterial infections and complications of common surgical procedures were considered. They believe such deaths are an effective way to gauge the performance of a country's health care system.
Of the 19 leading industrialized nations evaluated, France, Japan and Australia rated best and the United States worst After the top three, Spain was fourth best, followed in order by Italy, Canada, Norway, the Netherlands, Sweden, Greece, Austria, Germany, Finland, New Zealand, Denmark, Britain, Ireland and Portugal, with the United States last.
The researchers said France had 64.8 deaths deemed preventable by timely and effective health care per 100,000 people. Japan had 71.2 and Australia had 71.3 such deaths per 100,000 people. The United States had 109.7 such deaths per 100,000 people.
When the researchers compared these rankings with rankings for the same 19 countries covering the period of 1997 and 1998, all of the countries made progress in reducing preventable deaths from these earlier rankings except the United States. Preventable deaths dropped by an average of 16 percent for the nations in the study, while it declined by 4 percent for the United States. France and Japan also were first and second in those earlier rankings, while the United States was 15th, meaning it fell four places in the latest rankings.
According to the researchers, if the U.S. health care system performed as well as those of those top three countries, there would be 101,000 fewer deaths in the United States per year.
Cathy Schoen, Senior Vice President of the Commonwealth Fund, a private New York-based health policy foundation who backed the study, said, "It is startling to see the U.S. falling even farther behind on this crucial indicator of health system performance. 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."We can do better, much better