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Medical News and Perspectives
November 5, 2003

"Best Care" Would Save 57 000 Lives

JAMA. 2003;290(17):2246. doi:10.1001/jama.290.17.2246

Inadequate care for five prevalent conditions—asthma, depression, diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension—caused 57 000 preventable deaths and 41 million unnecessary sick days in 2002, according to the latest report from the nonprofit National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA).

"These are actual deaths, not just theoretical," said Brian Schilling, a spokesperson for NCQA. "We know how to save those people, we just aren't doing it."

Nearly half of the deaths, 28 000, stemmed from poor control of hypertension, which affects one third of US adults aged 45 years or older. Some 58% of patients in participating health maintenance organizations (HMOs) received best care for hypertension in 2002, up from 39% in 1999.

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