Hospitals in Southern USA 70% more likely to kill you.

Here’s a report that makes me feel good about living in Michigan. Sure our economy is in the toilet, but at least we have decent hospitals:

Dystopia: Hospitals in the American South 70% More Likely to Kill You – io9.com

A study released today by hospital rating organization HealthGrades shows that people in the nation’s highest-ranked hospitals (most of which are in the midwest) are 70% less likely to die than those in the lowest-ranked (most of which are in the south). The group looked at survival rates for 17 different problems or procedures, including stroke, heart attack, sepsis, and pneumonia.

The report rates hospitals on a scale of 1 to 5 stars, correcting for differences in services offered. According to the study authors:

    If all hospitals performed at the level of a 5-star rated hospital across the 17 procedures and diagnoses studied, 237,420 Medicare lives could have potentially been saved from 2005 to 2007. The region with the lowest overall risk-adjusted mortality rates was the East North Central region (IL, IN, MI, OH, and WI), while the East South Central region (AL, KY, MS, and TN) had the highest mortality rates.

[…] But there is just something so stark about a statistic showing that where you live means you’re 70 percent more likely to continue living if you go to the hospital. It brings home the reality of a crisis that’s only going to get worse.

I always figured there’d be a difference, but 70% does seem pretty high. You can read the full report at Health Grades.com.

U.S. in last place in preventable deaths.

This article pretty much speaks for itself:

U.S. last in preventable death rate – UPI.com

BETHESDA, Md., Jan. 8 (UPI)—The United States ranks last among 19 industrialized nations when it comes to deaths that could have been prevented.

The report by The Commonwealth Fund, published in the journal Health Affairs, said 101,000 deaths per year could have been prevented by access to timely and effective healthcare. The top performers were France, Japan and Australia.

Ellen Nolte and Martin McKee of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine looked at deaths “amenable to healthcare before age 75 between 1997-98 and 2002-03.”

The researchers found that while other countries saw these types of deaths decline by an average of 16 percent, the United States experienced only a 4 percent decline. “It is notable that all countries have improved substantially except the U.S.,” said Nolte, lead author of the study.

There is no good excuse for this. None.

U.S. ranks 42nd in life expectency behind countries such as friggin’ Guam.

U.S. Lags Behind 41 Nations in Life Span – Forbes.com

“Something’s wrong here when one of the richest countries in the world, the one that spends the most on health care, is not able to keep up with other countries,” said Dr. Christopher Murray, head of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington.

No shit. Certainly a lot of this has to do with the fact that we’re rich enough to be fat and lazy, but the fact that 45 million people are without health care doesn’t help in the slightest.

A baby born in the United States in 2004 will live an average of 77.9 years. That life expectancy ranks 42nd, down from 11th two decades earlier, according to international numbers provided by the Census Bureau and domestic numbers from the National Center for Health Statistics.

Andorra, a tiny country in the Pyrenees mountains between France and Spain, had the longest life expectancy, at 83.5 years, according to the Census Bureau. It was followed by Japan, Maucau, San Marino and Singapore.

The shortest life expectancies were clustered in Sub-Saharan Africa, a region that has been hit hard by an epidemic of HIV and AIDS, as well as famine and civil strife. Swaziland has the shortest, at 34.1 years, followed by Zambia, Angola, Liberia and Zimbabwe.

As always there’s still a significant racial disparity to boot:

Racial disparities. Black Americans have an average life expectancy of 73.3 years, five years shorter than white Americans.

Black American males have a life expectancy of 69.8 years, slightly longer than the averages for Iran and Syria and slightly shorter than in Nicaragua and Morocco.

And our infant mortality rates are just plain stupid:

A relatively high percentage of babies born in the U.S. die before their first birthday, compared with other industrialized nations.

Forty countries, including Cuba, Taiwan and most of Europe had lower infant mortality rates than the U.S. in 2004. The U.S. rate was 6.8 deaths for every 1,000 live births. It was 13.7 for Black Americans, the same as Saudi Arabia.

“It really reflects the social conditions in which African American women grow up and have children,” said Dr. Marie C. McCormick, professor of maternal and child health at the Harvard School of Public Health. “We haven’t done anything to eliminate those disparities.”

The fact that Cuba, with all the sanctions it has to deal with, has a lower infant mortality rate than the U.S. is just flabbergasting. But at least the Insurance Companies are making record profits, eh? Best health care in the world? Perhaps.

Shame only a few can afford it.