A study of preventive care and the management of 30 common health problems in the U.S. concluded that adults fail to receive recommended care nearly half the time. The comprehensive study of nearly 7,000 adults in 12 metropolitan areas, which appears in today's New England Journal of Medicine, exposes deficiencies that could contribute to thousands of preventable deaths each year, researchers said. The lack of recommended care persisted despite concerted efforts in recent years by both the federal government and the private sector to improve healthcare quality, lead researcher Elizabeth McGlynn said. "Even people who had health insurance and access to healthcare services failed to receive some elements of good care," McGlynn said.
The study evaluated 439 clinical indicators of care for conditions such as asthma, diabetes, colorectal cancer, heart disease and pneumonia. Among the findings, patients with pneumonia received 39% of recommended care, people with diabetes 45% and patients with colorectal cancer 54%. Preventive measures fared even more poorly. Patients with coronary artery disease received 68% of recommended care, but only 45% of heart-attack patients received medications that could reduce their risk of death by more than 20%, the study found. Similarly, only 25% of diabetes patients had their blood sugar levels measured regularly. Read an abstract of the study. -- by John Morrissey