15% of hospital spending in high-income countries due to care errors, infections

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Poor quality health services are preventing health improvements in countries of all income levels, with about 15 percent of hospital expenditure in high-income countries being linked to care mistakes or patients being infected during hospital stays, a recent report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, World Health Organization and the World Bank found.

Care quality issues, including inaccurate diagnoses, medication errors and unnecessary treatments, were worst in low and middle-income countries. In these countries, 10 percent of hospitalized patients can expect to acquire an infection during their stay. In high income countries, this number drops to seven percent.

Additionally, the report emphasized sickness linked to poor quality healthcare imposes additional expenditure on families and health systems.

Although there has been some progress in improving quality, such as with survival rates for cancer and cardiovascular disease, the economic and social costs of low quality care are predicted to cost trillions of dollars every year.

"Without quality health services, universal health coverage will remain an empty promise," said OECD Secretary-General Ángel Gurría. "The economic and social benefits are clear and we need to see a much stronger focus on investing in and improving quality to create trust in health services and give everyone access to high-quality, people-centred health services."

To view the full report, click here.

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