Stop the Press!! Doctor caused deaths

In a recent article from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), we are told that, Doctors are The Third Leading Cause of Death in the US, causing over 250,000 deaths every year.  Isn’t that comforting? Doctor caused deaths follow only heart disease and cancer.  Here is the breakdown, according to Dr. Barbara Starfield of the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, as she describes how the US healthcare system may contribute to poor health:

  • 12,000—Unnecessary surgery.

  • 7,000—Medication errors in hospitals

  • 20,000—Other errors in hospitals.

  • 80,000—Infections in hospitals.

  • 106,000—Non-error, negative effects of drugs.

It doesn’t take a math major to figure out these total 225,000 deaths per year.  They are said to be from iatrogenic causes!! What? This term is defined as induced in a patient by a physician’s activity, manner, or therapy.  Used especially with a complication of treatment. Even if these figures are overestimated, there is a wide margin between these numbers of deaths and the next leading cause of death (cerebrovascular disease).

Another analysis concluded that between 4% and 18% of patients experience negative effects in outpatient settings, with:

  • 116 million extra physician visits.

  • 77 million extra prescriptions.

  • 17 million emergency department visits.

  • 8 million hospitalizations.

  • 3 million long-term admissions.

  • 199,000 additional deaths.

  • $77 billion in extra costs.

Problem with high cost healthcare system

The high cost of the healthcare system is considered to be a deficit, but seems to be tolerated under the assumption that better health results from more expensive care.  However, evidence from a few studies indicates that as many as 20% to 30% of patients receive inappropriate care.

Of 13 countries in a recent comparison, the United States ranks an average of 12th (second from the bottom) for 16 available health indicators.  More specifically, the ranking of the US on several indicators was:

  • 13th (last) for low-birth-weight percentages

  • 13th for neonatal mortality and infant mortality overall.

  • 11th for postneonatal mortality.

  • 13th for years of potential life lost (excluding external causes).

  • 11th for life expectancy at 1 year for females, 12th for males.

  • 10th for life expectancy at 15 years for females, 12th for males.

  • 10th for life expectancy at 40 years for females, 9th for males.

  • 7th for life expectancy at 65 years for females, 7th for males.

  • 3rd for life expectancy at 80 years for females, 3rd for males.

  • 10th for age-adjusted mortality.

The poor performance of the US was recently confirmed by a World Health Organization study, which used different data and ranked the United States as 15th among 25 industrialized countries.

There is a perception that the American public “behaves badly” by smoking, drinking, and perpetrating violence.  However, the data does not support this assertion:

  • The proportion of females who smoke ranges from 14% in Japan to 41% in Denmark; in the United States, it is 24% (fifth best).  For males, the range is from 26% in Sweden to 61% in Japan; it is 28% in the United States (third best).

  • The US ranks fifth best for alcoholic beverage consumption.

  • The US has relatively low consumption of animal fats (fifth lowest in men ages 55-64 years in 20 industrialized countries) and the third lowest mean cholesterol concentrations among men aged 50 to 70 years among 13 industrialized countries.

Lack of technology is certainly not a contributing factor to the US’s low ranking.

  • Among 29 countries, the United States is second only to Japan in the availability of magnetic resonance imaging units and computed tomography scanners per million population.

  • Japan, however, ranks highest on health, whereas the US ranks among the lowest.

  • It is possible that the high use of technology in Japan is limited to diagnostic technology not matched by high rates of treatment, whereas in the US, high use of diagnostic technology may be linked to more treatment.

  • Supporting this possibility are data showing that the number of employees per bed (full-time equivalents) in the United States is highest among the countries ranked, whereas they are very low in Japan, far lower than can be accounted for by the common practice of having family members rather than hospital staff provide the amenities of hospital care.

Thanks to Dr. Joseph Mercola for the information provided in this article.  You can read his comments on his website:

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