Patient safety continues to decline in the United States and important disparities persist in the care received by various minority and low-income populations, according to a pair of reports released by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) in May.
The annual reports (available at http://www.ahrq.gov/qual/qrdr08.htm) examine data from a variety of national databases to assess key aspects of health care. This year's quality report documents that 1 in 7 Medicare patients experienced a medical adverse event in 2005 and 2006 and that overall measures of patient safety declined by nearly 1% in each of the past 6 years. Meanwhile, quality improvements in the health care received by individuals who are black, Asian, American Indian/Alaska Native, Hispanic, or poor have stalled or receded on more than half of the measures assessed in the AHRQ's report on disparities.
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Disparities between the care received by minority patients and white patients or between poor patients and wealthy ones persist and may vary among groups.
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