Medical Errors: US vs. UK

The official National Health Service (NHS) estimate of British patient deaths or serious injuries due to medical error is 11,000 cases a year. Yet, according to the Sun on July 3, 2009, the Commons Health Select Committee found that thousands of NHS mistakes are covered up and that a better estimate is that 72,000 patients die each year.

Some health reformers in the United States argue that more government controls on how physicians and hospitals practice medicine will improve quality and reduce patient deaths. Avoidable deaths in the US are now said to range from 98,000 to 195,000 every year. The lower number comes from a discredited Institute of Medicine estimate. The higher number comes from HealthGrades, a hardly disinterested party in the business of selling health care quality measures. Given the size of the US population, if government practice guidelines and pay for performance metrics are as successful under ObamaCare as they have been in Britain, expect the number of US deaths from medical errors to almost double to 360,000 a year.

Comments (10)

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  1. Charlie says:

    It makes sense.

    When the payer isn’t the user or the beneficiary of the services….then service will probably decline. More common sense seems to be taking down the ideas of ObamaCare everyday.

  2. june trent says:

    I am from England—PLEASE no national health care. One instance: my stepfather was diagnosed with prostrate cancer and needed immediate surgery. The “health care” wouldn’t do it for some time, so he had to pay for it himself, and had very little money. Another, several of my mother’s friends needed hip replacements. Some were in wheelchairs. They were supposed to get the surgery around 2 years later! My mother said it’s because they were elderly, and the government supposed they would die first, and in some cases they did. Also my sister had a suspicious place showed up on xray. She couldn’t get a MRI for less than a month later! & more I could tell you, I hope people would realize these possiblities for them, instead of accepting what our President puts forth. In England & Canada, only those that have money, and usually lots of it, can get early treatment for cancer and heart problems. Those in goverment should speak to the ordinary man to see how we struggle to pay our medical bills now, but even paying almost $800 just for me, i can get treatment when I need it!! Thank you for letting me give my opinion on a terrible proposition for health care.

  3. Vicki says:

    This is the system Tom Daschle wants us to copy — at least the cost-effectiveness, quality-control part of it.

  4. Brian says:

    I respect your opinion AND your experiences. However, just as there are horror stories, there are the majority of stories that range from normal to miraculous. My own stories are just that. My Aunt lives in England now and she was diagnosed with breast cancer at 57. The very next month she had a double mastectomy, and the week after that she started chemotherapy. NO COST. She isn’t rich, she isn’t “connected”, she works as a housewife on a farm. My Step-mom was diagnosed with breastcancer in New Mexico on November 25th,2008. She had to wait 3 months for her mastectomy and is still waiting for her chemo. She has insurance and insurance keeps trying to say that scince her family has a history of cancer, her care is not covered. At 68, she has had to re-mortgage her house, sell her vehicle, just to afford the down-payment on her surgery. So instead of enjoying her retirement, instead of living her dreams, she4 is having to worry whether she can pay the mortgage, whether she will get her chemo, and forget abbout leaving anything behind, the insurance company owns it all.

    I’ll take Britain’s system anyday over the criminal and very predatory profit-only healthcare in America. It is shaming that we, the “best nation” on earth, cannot protect its citizens from criminal yet very legal racketeering.

  5. Jack says:

    In other words Brian someone else paid for your Aunt’s chemo and double mastectomy.

  6. Linda Gorman says:

    Brian, very sorry to hear about your step-mom. At 68, the vast majority of people in the United States are covered by Medicare. In fact, there really isn’t much insurance for people who are 68 other than Medicare. How is it that your step-mom excluded?

    As Medicare is a government program designed to cover the elderly, it can be reformed only if we know the ways in which it fails people.

  7. Brian says:

    In other words, she paid into the system and so she is paying for her own care. Thank you for your heartless ignorance.
    If national care happens, then your money goes into a pool and payments for care are deducted from that pool…. KINDA like exactly what happens now.

  8. Brian says:


    Her insurance is private because she has paid her premiums consistantly for decades. It is a pre-existing policy. She could probably get on medicare and get better treatment and service.
    In fact when it comes to insurance:
    1) it is claimed that 80% are happy with their private insurance (claimed because the majority of those have never had to use their insurance and don’t know how fast they WILL be dropped if they get sick, how FAST their financial wealth can be destroyed because they played by the rules and got private insurance).
    2) 92% of medicare patients term their medicare coverage as better than fair.

    I’ll go with the 92% rather than the 80%. I have begged her to drop her private insurance and get on the medicare which she has, after all, paid for. Strictly because the care is better on medicare than on private insurance, Strictly because healthcare is MORE affordable on medicare than on private insurance, strictly because with medicare you have options where you have NO options in private insurance.

  9. patrick carey says:

    Where does Linda Gorman get her figures from? Are they verifiable or ‘gossip’ from the tabloids.

    One thing is certain, no UK Government could even consider reducing the NHS and hope to stay in power. The NHS is VERY popular in the UK. Maybe not 100% approval but most people think of it as ‘our’ NHS and have great respect for the medical staff.

    I write this as a Englishman now living (legally!!) in the great country (USA) and have been disturbed by the often ignorant villification of the USA.

    I really do think that in a caring, christian society, health care should be a non profit profession available for all who want it rather than a industry with stockholders etc. I know millions of citizens and thousands of lobbyists disagree.

  10. patrick carey says:

    In my last blog,the last word on the third paragraph is meant to be NHS!!…………..sorry