International Study: U.S. Adults Most Likely to Report Medical Errors

At a time when the U.S. spends more than double what other countries spend
for medical care, a new Commonwealth Fund, seven-nation survey finds that
U.S. patients are more likely than any others to report experiencing medical
errors, to go without care because of the cost and to say that the
healthcare system needs to be rebuilt completely.

U.S. patients, along with Canadians, are also the least likely to be able to
get a same-day appointment with their physicians when sick and the most
likely to seek care in emergency rooms as an alternative. The study finds
that U.S. adults also have the highest out-of-pocket costs and greatest
problems paying medical bills.

In the survey of 12,000 adults in Australia, Canada, Germany, the
Netherlands, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States,
one-third of U.S. adults called for rebuilding the system—the highest rate
in any country surveyed. The U.S. also ranked last in saying that only minor
changes are needed in the health system.

In addition to cost concerns, U.S. patients report more fragmented and
inefficient care, including medical record and test delays, perceptions of
waste and more time spent on paperwork, compared to patients in other

“As policymakers and the public consider proposals for fundamental change,
there are lessons to be learned from looking abroad,� said Commonwealth Fund
senior vice president Cathy Schoen, lead author of the article. “This survey
shows that patients in the U.S. are frustrated by high costs and a
complicated healthcare system.�

In terms of patient safety, U.S. adults report the highest rates of lab test
errors and among the highest rates of medical or medication errors.
Patient-reported errors were highest for those seeing multiple doctors or
with multiple chronic illnesses. One-third of U.S. patients with chronic
conditions reported a medical, medication or test error in the past two