How good is the quality of health care in the United States?

Milbank Q. 1998;76(4):517-63, 509. doi: 10.1111/1468-0009.00105.


Studies over the past decade show that some people are receiving more care than they need, and some are receiving less. Simple averages from a number of studies indicate that 50 percent of people received recommended preventive care; 70 percent, recommended acute care; 30 percent, contraindicated acute care; 60 percent, recommended chronic care; and 20 percent, contraindicated chronic care. These studies strongly suggest that the care delivered in the United States often does not meet professional standards. Efforts to measure quality and report routinely on the results to the public at large would allow more definitive assessments of the status of the nation's health care and would enable us to single out the areas in need of improvement.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease / therapy
  • Chronic Disease / therapy
  • Delivery of Health Care / standards*
  • Delivery of Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Services Misuse / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Preventive Health Services / standards
  • Preventive Health Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Quality Indicators, Health Care
  • Quality of Health Care / classification
  • Quality of Health Care / statistics & numerical data*
  • United States
  • Utilization Review / statistics & numerical data