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Health outcome disparity in the U.S., Ohio and Franklin County

Medical Errors Are Not the Only Cause of Negative health Outcomes

Medical outcomes vary in the United States depending on location, race and ethnicity. A 2014 report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, titled "National Healthcare Quality and Disparities Report," stated that, "Overall quality and racial/ethnic disparities varied widely across states, and often not in the same direction. Southern states tended to have poorer 


quality, but smaller disparities while middle Atlantic and west north-central states tended to have higher quality, but larger disparities."

National Data

What does this mean in practical terms? The report identifies groups of people who have less access to health care. For example, the report found that although more adults have health insurance under the Affordable Care Act than before, there are still racial disparities in the percentages of insured people. African-Americans and Hispanics are still more likely to be uninsured than are white Americans.

Additionally, racial and economic disparities in the quality of care continued, despite improvements in the rate of insured people. For example, the care experienced by poor people was of lower quality than for people not classified as poor. Black and Hispanic people received lower-quality care than white Americans.

The report provides many other measurements that give a detailed picture of health care quality throughout the country. However, it does not provide state and local data; that information appears in other resources. For example, the Henry J. Kaiser Foundation released a report in August 2014 that fills in some details about the state of health care in Ohio and how it compares with the rest of the country.

Ohio Data

The Kaiser Foundation report, titled "The Ohio Health Care Landscape," gives a picture of health care in Ohio. For example:

  • The health of Ohio residents ranks 40thout of the 50 states.
  • People in Ohio have a lower life expectancy than the national average, 77.8 years compared with the national average of 78.9 years.
  • Ohio has higher rates of infant mortality, diabetes, overweight, smoking and obesity than the national average.
  • The infant mortality rate among black Ohioans is twice that of whites, a rate that is already higher than the national average.
  • There are regional disparities in health care in Ohio. For example, people in the Appalachian region of Ohio report unmet health needs and consider themselves in poor health. They are more likely to be obese, have high blood pressure and smoke.
  • Fifteen percent of Ohioans are uninsured, compared with Massachusetts, where a low of 4 percent are uninsured, and Texas, where a high of 24 percent are uninsured.
  • Between 10.1 and 15 percent of people in Franklin County are uninsured.

Except for the last statistic about uninsurance rates, the Kaiser Foundation report does not go into much local detail. In contrast, the Ohio Department of Health provides a wealth of statistics about health outcomes in Ohio at the county level.

Franklin County Data

For example, did you know that in Franklin County:

  • Cancer deaths are in the second-best tier, with a rate of between 169.8 and 183.5 deaths annually per 100,000 population from all types of cancer.
  • Similarly, the death rate from diabetes is in the second-best tier, with 20.0 to 25.6 deaths from diabetes per 100,000 population.
  • The county is in the second tier for heart disease deaths, with 172.0 to 189.9 deaths per 100,000 population annually.

Franklin County is not among the worst, but it is also not among the best when it comes to health measures such as these. Moreover, statistical information of any kind, even at the county level, cannot predict precisely what will actually happen to an individual who suffers a heart attack, enters the hospital to deliver a baby or obtains cancer treatment. Statistics can only suggest the chances of obtaining a particular outcome. When a negative outcome is the result of medical error, patients may have legal recourse. 


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