US lags behind other countries in care quality: 8 report findings

Though the U.S. spends the most on healthcare globally, its quality performance doesn't necessarily reflect this when compared to other countries, according to a report published Nov. 7 from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. 

The Health at a Glance 2019: OECD Indicators report compares population health and health system performance from OECD members, candidate and partner countries' official statistics. 

Eight takeaways from OECD's 2019 report: 

1. The U.S. had the second highest rate of obstetric trauma for vaginal deliveries between 2012-17, reporting a rate of 11.1 obstetric traumas per 100 instrument-assisted vaginal deliveries. Rates varied from 0.7 per 100 deliveries for Poland to 16.4 per 100 deliveries forCanada.

2. In 2017, the U.S. had the 10th highest admission rate for avoidable asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease out of 37 countries. The U.S. had 268 admissions per 100,000 cases, compared to 58 per 100,000 cases in Japan and 428 per 100,000 in Hungary. For avoidable congestive heart failure hospital admissions in 2017, the U.S. had the sixth highest rate, reporting 371 admissions per 100,000. Costa Rica had the lowest rate at 39 admissions per 100,000, while Poland had the highest at 511 admissions per 100,000.

3. The U.S. reported the fourth lowest percentage of hospitalized patients with one or more healthcare-associated infections in 2015-17. U.S. rates were slightly above 3 percent, behind Lithuania, Latvia and Germany.

4. In all countries, women diagnosed early with breast cancer had a 90 percent or higher probability of surviving the cancer for at least five years. Women in the U.S. had a 98.7 percent survival rate between 2010 and 2014. Women in Australia had the highest survival rate (99.5 percent).

5. The U.S. had the 9th highest five-year survival rate for colon cancer out of 39 countries with a rate of 64.9 percent. Korea had the highest (71.8 percent), followed by Israel (71.7 percent) and Australia (70.7 percent).

6. U.S. had the fifth highest five-year survival rate for lung cancer between 2010 and 2014, with a rate of 21.2 percent. Japan lead with a mortality rate of 32.9 percent, followed by Israel (26.6 percent) and Korea (25.1 percent).

7. Nearly 82 percent of the time, U.S. patients reported that their physicians spent enough time with them during consultations in 2017. This figure sits above the OECD average of 80.6 percent but trails behind 12 other countries, with Israel leading at 96.1 percent.

8. U.S. patients reported that their physicians provided easy-to-understand explanations 89.8 percent of the time in 2017. Israel reporting the highest rate (97.5 percent), followed by Portugal (96.3 percent) and Netherlands (96.2 percent).

OECD noted that care quality is improving in terms of safety and effectiveness, but few health systems routinely ask patients about the outcomes and experiences of their care.  

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