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Report: Illnesses that Shouldn’t be Fatal, Too Often are in VA, and Elsewhere

January 10, 2008

Richmond, VA – Too many Virginians are dying from health conditions that are easily treated, according to a new report, which finds the U.S. is now ranked last among industrialized nations when it comes to “preventable deaths.” Karen Davis with The Commonwealth Fund says we have a health crisis, which explains the statistics. She says people with high blood pressure, appendicitis, and even early-stage colon cancer shouldn't have to die.

"If you'd only been able to see a doctor when you really needed one, this condition could have been controlled."

Davis says the report should be an example to the U.S. because it shows that other countries, like France and Japan, have reformed health care to better help people manage chronic illnesses.

"Make sure that they can afford the medications, and make sure that hospitals and physicians are providing good chronic care management."

Davis says the U.S. has been sinking in the rankings as the number of uninsured Americans has risen. Report critics say lifestyle differences may better explain the rise in the “preventable death” rate. Nineteen countries were ranked - France, Japan and Australia did best.

Deborah Smith/Kevin Clay, Public News Service - VA