di Riccardo D'Andrea
Brussels, June 19 - More than half, or 57%, of Italians fear medical malpractice, placing them above the European Union average of 53%, a Eurobarometer survey on patient safety and quality of care showed Thursday. Italians also take a far dimmer view of their national health care system than their continental fellows do of theirs, with 56% approving against an EU average of 71%. However, fewer Italians (13%) actually experience malpractice at the hands of the medical profession, against an EU average of 27%. As well, 10% of these cases occurred outside Italy. Of those who were harmed while receiving health care, just 38% (against an EU average of 46%) sought redress or reported the incident. Much still remains to be done in terms of patients' rights, safety, and empowerment to report medical malpractice within the Union, according to the European Commission. "The good news is that most member States have enacted patient safety programs. The bad news is that adverse events still occur within our health care systems", said EU Health Commissioner Tonio Borg. "Health policy makers must continue their commitment to guaranteeing the safety of citizens seeking health care". Ways to do this include involving health care staff and patients' organizations, enacting binding national legislation, and EU-wide cooperation on the issue of patient safety, according to the Commission.