Thursday, March 10, 2005

What's the 3rd leading cause of death in the U.S ?


A Quarter-Million Doctor-Induced Deaths Annually: Iatrogenocide?

What is the meaning of the word Iatrogenic:

IATROGENIC [Gk., iatros, physician, genein, to produce], caused by treatment or diagnostic procedures. An iatrogenic disorder is a condition caused by medical personnel or procedures or through exposure to the environment of a health care facility, including fears instilled in patients by remarks or questions of examining physicians. See also: 'nosocomial', (iatrogenesis, iatrogeny, n.) ~Mosby's Medical Dictionary, 5th Edition, 1998

A generation ago, people trusted their doctors blindly and implicitly. The personal bonds people used to form with their doctors have largely been replaced with the cold hard contemporary reality that medicine has become a $multi-billion per year business with little room for compassion. The healthcare market place is not kind and people have lost trust. Iatrogeny plays a large and ugly role in this.

A recent study published in The Journal of The American Medical Association (2000:284:94) by Barbara Starfield, MD, MPH, showed that in the U.S. there are:

· 12,000 deaths/year from unnecessary surgery
· 7,000 deaths/year from medication errors in hospitals
· 20,000 deaths/year from other errors in hospitals
· 80,000 deaths/year from nosocomial infections in hospitals
· 106,000 deaths/year from adverse effects of medications

This totals 225,000 deaths per year from iatrogenic causes, placing iatrogeny as the third leading cause of death in the U.S., second only to heart disease and cancer. The scary part is that this does not include disabilities and disorders; just deaths in hospitalized patients. In any event, when one ponders that more than four times as many people die in one year from doctors' mistakes than died in the entire Vietnam War, one is aghast at why this information isn't making headlines or why huge think tanks funded by medicopolitical interests haven't formed.

In spite of the rising health care costs that provide the illusion of improving health care, the American people do not enjoy good health, compared with their counterparts in the industrialized nations. Among thirteen countries including Japan, Sweden, France and Canada, the U.S. was ranked 12th, based on the measurement of 16 health indicators such as life expectancy, low-birth-weight averages and infant mortality. In another comparison reported by the World Health Organization that used a different set of health indicators, the U.S. also fared poorly with a ranking of 15 among 25 industrialized nations.

Although many people attribute poor health to the bad habits of the American public, Starfield (2000) points out that Americans do not lead an unhealthy lifestyle compared to their counterparts. For example, only 28 percent of the male population in the U.S. smoked, thus making it the third best nation in the category of smoking among the 13 industrialized nations. The U.S. population also achieved a high ranking (5th best) for alcohol consumption. In the category of men aged 50 to 70 years, the U.S. had the third lowest mean cholesterol concentrations among 13 industrialized nations. Therefore, the perception that America's poor health is a result of smoking, alcohol or high cholesterol issues does not make any sense,.

Here is another statistic:

A new study suggests that computerized order entry systems which are implemented in part to reduce prescribing errors can actually increase the risk of medication errors in certain situations, according to a study in the March 9 issue of JAMA. Adverse drug events (ADEs) are estimated to injure or kill more than 770,000 patients in hospitals annually, according to background information on the article. Prescribing errors are the largest identified source of preventable hospital medical error. Computerized physician order entry (CPOE) systems are widely viewed as crucial for reducing prescribing errors and potentially saving hundreds of billions in annual costs. Published studies have indicated that CPOE reduces medication errors up to 81 percent. Few researchers, however, have focused on the existence or types of medication errors facilitated by CPOE.



Adverse Drug Reactions 100,000 to 140,000
Automobile Accidents 39,325
Food Contamination 9,100
Boating Accidents 2,064
Household Cleaners 74
Acute Pesticide Poisoning 12
All Vitamins 0
Amino acids 0
Commercial Herbal Products 0 **

*Sources Data as of 1995 from American Association of Poison Control Centers, National Center for Health Statistics, Journal of the American Medical Association, Centers for Disease Control, March of Dimes, Consumer Product Safety Commission, FDA Reports. **Before Ephedra scare, Recent problems attributed to synthetic Ephedra and are not proven.

Comment: If you read my webpage carefully, I think you will see some clues as to why we are not as healthy as we should be and you might consider taking charge of your own health, after looking at the alternative.