U.S. Preventable Death Rate Highest of Developed Nations
The U.S. has the highest rate of preventable deaths among 19 industrialized nations, and although the U.S. rate has declined over the past five years, it is doing so at a slower rate than other countries, according to a London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine analysis published on Thursday in the journal Health Affairs, Bloomberg News reports.
The study examined preventable deaths in people younger than age 75 caused by 30 conditions that could have been treated with medical or surgical interventions, including tuberculosis, thyroid disease, appendicitis, tetanus infections, abdominal hernia, colon cancer, measles and epilepsy. The analysis also included deaths in people younger than age 50 caused by leukemia, cervical cancer and diabetes. The report focused on people whose lives would have been extended with widely available medical treatment.
According to the study, if the rate of preventable deaths in the U.S. improved to the average of the top three countries -- France, Japan and Australia -- 101,000 fewer U.S. residents would die annually.
In 1997-1998, the U.S. rate of preventable deaths was 15th of the 19 countries, with 115 preventable deaths per 100,000 people, compared with 110 deaths per 100,000 people five years later, a 4.4% improvement. The largest improvements were seen in Ireland, the U.K. and Austria, all of which have reduced smoking, improved diets and increased access to care. Ireland also has improved access to some heart disease treatments, such as bypass surgery and anti-clotting drugs, study co-author Ellen Nolte said.
The other countries included in the study were Canada, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden. Of the countries examined, the U.S. is the only one without universal health care coverage (Goldstein, Bloomberg News, 1/8).