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Health care ranks lower in U.S. than in other countries

The U.S. health care system does a poor job providing efficient access to quality care compared with health systems in six other industrialized countries, according to a recent survey. The report, released in June by the Commonwealth Fund, said the United States scored low in measures of quality, efficiency, access, equity of care and ability of people to lead healthy and productive lives. "It's disappointing, but not surprising that despite our significant investment, the U.S. continues to lag behind," Commonwealth Fund President Karen Davis, PhD, said in a national teleconference on the report. The U.S. spends more on health care -- $7,290 per capita in 2007 -- than do any of the other countries studied. By comparison, the Netherlands ranked highest for care and spent $3,837 per capita. "We simply are not getting commensurate care for the amount we are spending on health care," Davis said. Also ranked in the annual report were Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand an ...

Electronic pill bottles might help medication adherence

Pill bottles that electronically alert patients to take their medications show promise for increasing compliance, according to research from the Center for Connected Health, a division of Partners Healthcare in Boston. A randomized controlled study of patients who used electronic pill bottles wirelessly connected to the Internet found a 27 percentage point higher rate of medication compliance compared with patients who didn't use the electronic bottles. The bottles, called GlowCaps and produced by Cambridge, Mass.-based Vitality, alert patients with light and sound when it's time to take their medicine. The bottles also generate missed-dose reminder phone calls and refill reminders. Automated progress reports also are sent to the patients' physicians, family or caregivers. For the study, 139 patients on antihypertensive medication were enrolled in a six-month program. They were divided into three groups: a control group that did not receive any communication; an intervention g ...

Hospital related tv drama shows inspire ethics lessons

It was bad enough that Seattle Grace Hospital intern Isobel "Izzie" Stevens, MD, fell in love with a patient in need of a heart transplant. But she really crossed the ethical line when she cut the wires to his left ventricular assist device so his health would deteriorate and he'd move higher on the United Network for Organ Sharing waiting list. That behavior -- portrayed by actress Katherine Heigl on the hit ABC TV medical drama "Grey's Anatomy" -- is probably the most outrageous example of scores of unethical medical actions shown on "Grey's" and Fox TV's "House," according to a study in the April Journal of Medical Ethics ( Researchers analyzed 50 episodes of the two programs and found that bioethical issues came up 179 times, with informed-consent discussions the most common. Of 49 consent talks, the study said, 57% were inadequate -- rushed, one-sided and lacking information about the down side of risky procedures. Meanwhile, the TV ...