Americans Unhappy About Health Care Quality

November 17, 2004 ( - The last five years have brought many alterations to the fabric of American life, with terrorism, unemployment, and political division wracking the country, and now one more change can be added to the list: the quality of health care.

According to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation, the US Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and the Harvard School of Public Health, 40% of people believe that the quality of health care has gotten worse over the past five years, with only 17% believing it has improved. Thirty-eight percent think that the quality has been stagnant.

Americans are concerned about the quality of health care to the extent that 48% of US residents state that they are concerned about the safety of the medical attention they and their families receive. Fifty-five percent say they are dissatisfied with the quality of health care in America, which is up 11% from four years ago.

When asked to state what subjects comprised quality in health care, respondents came to no general consensus, with cost (14%), doctor quality (13%), and total access (9%) all being named.

The number of Americans who have actually experienced problems is lower, however. According to the study, only 34% of respondents state that they or a family member have experienced a medical error at some point in their life. People with chronic health conditions are much more likely to have experienced an error, according to the report.

Not surprisingly, 92% of Americans believe that such errors should be reported, and 63% thought the information should be released publicly. Eighty-eight percent thought that doctors should be required by law to tell a patient if a preventable medical error resulted in serious harm in the patient’s case.

For more information on the report, see .