Health Care's Quality Gap

Michael Sheehan

Physician's Money Digest, October31 2003, Volume 10, Issue 20

A report from the National Committeeon Quality Assurance (NCQA; www.ncqa.org), a Washington-based, nonprofit,health care watchdog organization,estimates that 57,000 Americans dieeach year for lack of quality healthcare. Although the medical professionknows how to control high blood pressureand treat diabetes, the reportclaims, patients with those health problemsare not always getting the propercare. According to the report, only 2 ofevery 5 patients diagnosed with hypertensionhave their blood pressure undercontrol. The report also blames the failureto properly treat 5 conditions—diabetes,depression, asthma, high bloodpressure, and heart disease—for almost41 million sick days annually, costingAmerican businesses about $11.5 billiona year. An NCQA spokespersonsaid that, although people might questionthe report's statistics, they serve tofocus attention on the quality healthcare problem.