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The Arkansas Foundation for Medical Care (AFMC)
is a nonprofit corporation dedicated to the clinical evaluation and improvement of health care in Arkansas. They provide in-depth quality evaluation and improvement programs for Medicare, Medicaid and other payors; offer a variety of data management services to both the public and private sectors; and conduct extensive patient and public health education activities.

Recent Statistics Related to Quality

of Health Care in America

Medical Errors

• Between 48,000 and 98,000 people die each year in hospitals from preventable medical errors.  One million more are injured. Medical errors kill more people per year than breast cancer, AIDS or motor vehicle accidents.

• Medical errors have been cited as the nation's fourth leading cause of death according to the National Academy for State Health Policy.

• The National Academy of State Health Policy reports that 106 medical-error related bills have been introduced in state legislatures since 1999 and legislation to address medical errors has been introduced in 26 states. 4

• Forty-two percent of Americans report that they have been personally involved in a situation where a preventable medical error was made in their own care or that of a family member. 5

• Thirty-five percent of physicians report that they have been personally involved in a situation where a preventable medical error was made in their own care or that of a family member. 5

• Seventy-three percent of the public said that the government should require health care providers to report all serious medical errors; while 21 percent said reporting should be done on a voluntary basis. 6

• Eighty-four percent of the public thinks that increasing efforts to reduce medical errors should be a very important priority for the nation's health agenda. 7

Providing Appropriate Care

• Doctors provide appropriate preventive care only 50 percent of the time, effective chronic care 60 percent of the time, and evidence-based acute care only 70 percent of the time. 8

• Eighteen thousand Americans die each year from heart attacks because they didn’t receive preventive medications, although they were eligible for them. 9

• More than 50 percent of patients with diabetes, hypertension, tobacco addiction, hyperlipidemia, congestive heart failure, asthma, depression and chronic atrial fibrillation are currently managed inadequately. 10

• The lag between the discovery of more effective forms of treatment and their incorporation into routine patient care averages 17 years. 11

Financial Implications of Poor Quality of Health Care

• Nearly $400 billion -- almost one-third of the total spent on health care each year -- is wasted on poor quality health care. 12

• Preventable medical errors drive up health care costs by as much as $29 billion annually. 13

• Medication-related errors for hospitalized patients cost roughly $2 billion annually. 14

• Nearly 66.5 million avoidable sick days and more than $1.8 billion in excess medical costs can be traced to the health care system's routine failure to provide needed care. 15


1 - Institute of Medicine. 2000. To Err Is Human: Building a Safer Health System. L. T. Kohn, J. M. Corrigan, and M. S. Donaldson, eds. Washington, D.C: National Academy Press. - Thomas, E.J., D.M. Studdert, H.R. Burstin, E.J. Orav, T. Zeena, E.J. Williams, K.M. Howard, P.C. Weiler, and T.A. Brennan. 2000. Incidence and Types of Adverse Events and Negligent Care in Utah and Colorado. [Comment]. Medical Care 38 (3): 261-71. - Thomas, E.J., D.M. Studdert, J.P. Newhouse, B.I.W. Zbar, K.M. Howard, E.J. Williams, and T.A. Brennan. 1999. Costs of medical injuries in Utah and Colorado. Inquiry 36 (3): 255-64.

2 - Institute of Medicine. 2000. - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (National Center for Health Statistics). Births and Deaths: Preliminary Data for 1998. 1999. National Vital Statistics Reports. Washington, D.C.: Department of Health and Human Services.

3 - Institute of Medicine. 2000.

4 - National Academy for State Health Policy, State Responses to the Problem of Medical Errors: An Analysis of Recent State Legislative Proposals. L. Flowers. February 2002.

5 - Survey by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, Harvard School of Public Health. Methodology: Fieldwork conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates, December 3-December 13, 1999 and based on telephone interviews with a national adult sample of 1,515.

6 - Survey by Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Methodology: Fieldwork conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates, July 31-October 9, 2000 and based on telephone interviews with a national adult sample of 2,014.

7 - Harvard School of Public Health/The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Public Health Survey (conducted May 9-13, 2001).

8 - Schuster, McGlynn and Brook, "How Good is the Quality of Health Care in the United States" The Milbank Quarterly 76, No. 4 (December 1998).

9 - Institute of Medicine, 2003a. Fostering Rapid Advances in Health Care: Learning from System Demonstrations. J. M. Corrigan, A. Greiner, and S. M. Erickson, eds. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. - Chassin, M.R. 1997. Assessing strategies for quality improvement. Health Aff (Millwood) 16 (3): 151-61.

10 - Institute of Medicine, 2003b. Priority Areas for National Action: Transforming Health Care Quality. K. Adams and J. M. Corrigan, eds. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press. - Clark, C.M., J.E. Fradkin, R.G. Hiss, R.A. Lorenz, F. Vinicor, and E. Warren-Boulton. 2000. Promoting early diagnosis and treatment of type 2 diabetes: The National Diabetes Education Program. JAMA 284 (3): 363-5. - Joint National Committee on Prevention, 1997; Legorreta et al., 2000; McBride et al., 1998; Ni et al., 1998; Perez-Stable and Fuentes-Afflick, 1998; Samsa et al., 2000; Young et al., 2001

11 - Balas, E.A. 2001. Information Systems Can Prevent Errors and Improve Quality. [Comment]. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association 8 (4): 398-9.

12 - Midwest Business Group on Health in collaboration with Juran Institute, Inc. and the Severn Group, inc., "Reducing the Costs of Poor-Quality Health Care Through Responsible Purchasing Leadership," Chicago, June 2002.

13 - Institute of Medicine. 2000.

14 - Institute of Medicine. 2000. - Bates, D.W., N. Spell, D.J. Cullen, E. Burdick, N. Laird, L.A. Petersen, S.D. Small, B.J. Sweitzer, and L.L. Leape. 1997. The costs of adverse drug events in hospitalized patients. Adverse Drug Events Prevention Study Group. JAMA 277 (4): 307-11.

15 - The National Committee for Quality Assurance, 2004. State of Health Care Quality Report. Greg Pawlson, M.D., M.P.H.; Russell Mardon, Ph.D.; Sarah Shih, M.P.H.; Oanh Vuong; Rich Mierzejewski, M.S.; Shaheen Halim, M.S.; Sarah Hudson Scholle, Dr.P.H.; Stacy Trent and Paul Rockswold, M.D., M.P.H.

This program and outreach campaign made possible by a grant from the Amgen Foundation