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December 19, 2018
healthy florida
healthy florida
Jogging on Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa, Florida.

Photo: Tampa Bay Times

healthy florida
healthy florida
Downtown Miami, Florida
healthy florida
Biking in Jacksonville, Florida.

Photo: Ryan Ketterman

healthy florida
healthy florida
Winter Garden, Florida

Florida's Health

How healthy is Florida?

Mike Vogel | 7/27/2018

Checkup: Quality of Life

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute issue health rankings that include an index called Quality of Life. That measure incorporates factors including the share of the population reporting poor or fair health, numbers of poor physical or mental health days, low birth weight babies, smoking prevalence, obesity and population per doctor.

The 10 counties in Florida with the highest Quality of Life rankings: The 10 Florida counties with the lowest Quality of Life ratings tend to be small and rural:
1 St. Johns (healthiest) 58 Union
2 Sarasota 59 DeSoto
3 Collier 60 Dixie
4 Martin 61 Gadsden
5 Seminole 62 Hardee
6 Alachua 63 Okeechobee
7 Palm Beach 64 Madison
8 Nassau 65 Hamilton
9 Monroe 66 Hendry
10 Okaloosa 67 Putnam (least healthy)


HIV Florida

  • In 2016, Florida ranked second in new HIV diagnoses, with 4,972. (California was first.)
  • The Miami/Fort Lauderdale/West Palm metro area, along with Jacksonville, Lakeland/ Winter Haven and Tampa/St. Petersburg/ Clearwater all ranked in the top 20 nationally in HIV diagnosis rate per 100,000 residents.

Florida Scripts

  • There were 266 million retail prescriptions filled in Florida at pharmacies in 2017, 6.5% of the national total. Florida accounted for 7.0% of the nation’s spending on pharmaceuticals.

Checkup: Florida's Doctors

In terms of doctors-to-people, Florida is average, ranking 24th in the nation, according to the Washington-based Association of American Medical Colleges. Home to 53,685 physicians in 2016, the most recent data available, the state had 260 doctors for every 100,000 people.

Florida is:

40th in general surgeons per 100,000

39th in percentage of female doctors at 29.4%. Pediatrics draws women. At least four out of 10 doctors are women in geriatric, neonatal and OB-GYN specialties. Some 97% of orthopedic surgeons are males.

7th in the share of doctors who are over 60 — more than a third of all doctors in Florida.

Florida-educated medical students tend to stay in Florida. New York med schools send the most doctors to Florida — 15% of the state’s physicians. Pennsylvania schools account for 6% and Ohio 4%.

35th in medical school students per 100,000 population. The number of medical students is growing, but so is the state’s population.

9th in med school enrollment growth rate. Enrollment at Florida medical schools rose 71% from 2006 to 2016, a period that saw the first classes enroll at new med schools at FIU, UCF and FAU.

4th in growth of number of medical residents and fellows

3rd in percentage of doctors graduated from foreign med schools. (New Jersey and New York have larger shares.)

Checkup: How Floridians Die

Top 10 Killers of Floridians

Heart disease and cancer have been No. 1 and No. 2 for decades. The death rate from heart disease has halved since 1976. The death rates from cancer and stroke also are down, while the rate from unintentional injury has gone up, along with the rate for diabetes. Flu and pneumonia, a top 10 cause of death 40 years ago, have fallen off the top 10 as the rate fell from 26.3 per 100,000 people to 9.6 since 1976.

Top 10 Killers

  • Heart Disease
  • Cancer
  • Unintentional injury
  • Chronic lower respiratory disease
  • Stroke
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Diabetes
  • Chronic liver disease and cirrhosis
  • Kidney disease
  • Suicide
  • Accidental Death

Only heart disease and cancer kill more Floridians than unintentional injury — falls, car wrecks, poisoning, drowning and other traumatic events. Falls tend to occur in the home and kill more men than women. Among major counties, Pinellas has the highest rate of unintentional death — 66.8 per 100,000 residents. Miami-Dade has the lowest among all Florida counties — 28.2 per 100,000.

Drunk Driving

Twenty-one years ago, the rate of alcoholsuspected vehicle crashes in Florida stood at 161 per 100,000 people. As of 2016, that rate had fallen by more than half — to 77.

The state Highway Patrol, while happy the number is down, says it won’t speculate on why.

For decades now, America has been moving to thwart drunk driving, enacting stricter standards for what constitutes “under the influence,” imposing harsher penalties, encouraging designated drivers and ratcheting up societal opprobrium. Miami-Dade had the lowest rate in the state per 100,000 people in 2016.

Monroe County, home to the Florida Keys and disproportionately impacted by tourism, had the highest. The rate of alcoholsuspected traffic deaths, meanwhile, has fallen more slowly. That rate actually climbed a bit from 1997 through 2005, when it peaked at 6.9 per 100,000.

It fell to 4.6 by 2016. That number still represented 934 deaths. But that sad tally was only seven more than in 1997, when the state had 5 million fewer residents, let alone far fewer tourists.

Tags: Healthcare, Florida's Health

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