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Public Health (01-03-2006)

Medical errors are perceived as a key problem by Europeans, according to EU survey

European citizens generally do not feel protected from medical errors and European health care is not perceived to be as safe as it should be. These were two revelations of a Eurobarometer survey on medical errors, published in February 2006. Approximately 13-16% of hospitalized patients are victims of medical errors with a mortality rate of 5-8%, according to studies carried out by the Member States. According to the Eurobarometer, 80% of respondents said that medical errors were a serious problem in their country, and almost one quarter of those surveyed said that they or their family had been the victim of a medical error.  Furthermore, 51% of people thought they couldn’t avoid serious medical errors in hospital. Nordic Member States appear to have the highest rate of confidence in their health care systems, while the lowest rate of confidence was recorded in Italy, Poland and LithuaniaAcross all 25 Member States the lack of confidence is directed towards the quality of health care, rather than towards the professionals administering it. Dentists, for example, have the trust of 74% of EU citizens and 69% of citizens trust their doctors.
This Eurobarometer survey was carried out as part of a series of EU actions aiming to improve patient safety and quality in health care. In April 2005 the Luxembourg Presidency adopted the Luxembourg Declaration on Patient Safety, and the Commission is planning future steps to improve the safety and quality in health care by involving all players including politicians, public administrators and health care professionals. The range of measures envisaged includes the establishment of an EU stakeholder forum to discuss activities on patient safety, and an open consultation on hospital-acquired infections.
For more information on the Eurobarometer: 
For more information on the open consultation on hospital-acquired infections:
For information on adverse events in health care: