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73% of patients worry about medical errors, poll says

Nearly three-quarters of patients say they are concerned about the potential for medical errors, according to a poll that sheds light on public perceptions of patient safety. Three in 10 patients said they had experience with a medical error, either personally or through a close friend or family member. Twenty-one percent reported having been misdiagnosed by a physician, said the Wolters Kluwer Health survey of 1,000 American adults released Aug. 15. Wolters Kluwer is a Philadelphia-based publisher of medical journals and maker of point-of-care clinical software. It is unclear whether patient concerns about medical errors have worsened with time. A November 2004 poll of 2,014 adults conducted on behalf of the Kaiser Family Foundation and other organizations found that 34% reported that they or a loved one had experienced a medical error. Fifty-five percent said the quality of care had improved or stayed the same since the 1999 Institute of Medicine report “To Err is Human, ...

Good intentions aside, public health strategies vary in effectiveness

Some of the most widely promoted public health interventions are not necessarily the most effective. For example, there isn’t enough research to conclude whether nutrition labels on food packages and calorie counts on menus encourage healthier eating, said an American Heart Assn. scientific statement published online Aug. 20 in Circulation. “It’s a little surprising the evidence wasn’t that strong, considering how much attention [they have] gotten,” said statement chair Dariush Mozaffarian, MD, DrPH. The AHA report, which was written by a group of 13 internists, pediatricians and public health professionals, highlights 43 population-based strategies that improve diet, increase physical activity and reduce tobacco use. It also identifies interventions with less-robust evidence on their effectiveness. The report found that effective approaches include health warnings on cigarette packages, policies that make nutritious food more affordable and improving sidewalk des ...

SGR repeal cost estimate drops to $245 billion

Reduced projected Medicare spending for the next decade has lowered the estimated cost of repealing Medicare’s sustainable growth rate formula that helps determine physician pay. Eliminating the SGR and freezing Medicare doctor pay rates over 10 years would cost $245 billion, according to new projections from the Congressional Budget Office. Officials previously had estimated that nearly $300 billion would be needed for a pay freeze. But with slower expected growth in program spending, the SGR formula — which decreases doctor pay when predetermined spending limits are exceeded — would not lower doctor rates as much and thus would be less costly to reverse. Lawmakers said they will work to prevent a scheduled 27% SGR reduction to Medicare pay before it takes effect in 2013. Congress also faces other significant year-end fiscal challenges, including expiring tax cuts and automatic reductions of federal defense and non-defense spending. Determining ways to pay for an SGR re ...