Why Not The Best? How About The Worst? In Measuring Preventable Mortality Among 19 Industrialized Nations, U.S. Ranks “Dead Last”!

In a study by The Commonwealth Fund, The United States ranked last among 19 industrialized nations on “preventable mortality” which were defined as “mortality amenable to health care—deaths that might have been prevented with timely and effective care”. Although the U.S. rate improved by 4 percent between 1997–1998 and 2002–2003 (from 115 to 110 deaths per 100,000), rates improved by 16 percent on average in other nations, leaving the U.S. further behind.  The exception to this overall trend occurred for quality metrics that have been the focus of national campaigns or public reporting, such as hospital standardized mortality ratios (HSMRs) which improved by 19 percent from 2000–2002 to 2004–2006. HSMRs sustained improvement followed local and national programs to improve hospital safety and reduce mortality in addition to making the risk-adjusted measures available to providers and consumers.


The Commonwealth Fund Commission on a High Performance Health System, Why Not the Best? Results from the National Scorecard on U.S. Health System Performance, 2008, The Commonwealth Fund, July 2008.