Doctors Are The Third Leading Cause of Death in the U.S.
Causing 250,000 Deaths Every Year!
article in the Journal of the American Medical Association
(JAMA) is the best article I have ever seen written in the
published literature documenting the tragedy of the traditional
This information is a follow-up of the Institute of Medicine
report, which hit the papers in December of last year, but
the data was hard to reference, as it was not in peer-reviewed
Now it is published in JAMA which is the most widely circulated
medical periodical in the world.
The author is Dr. Barbara Starfield
of the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health and
she describes how the US health care system may contribute
to poor health
ALL THESE ARE DEATHS PER YEAR:
- 12,000 -- unnecessary surgery 8
- 7,000 -- medication errors in hospitals 9
- 20,000 -- other errors in hospitals 10
- 80,000 -- infections in hospitals 10
- 106,000 -- non-error, negative effects of drugs 2
These total to 250,000 deaths per year from
What does the word iatrogenic mean? This term is defined
as induced in a patient by a physician's activity, manner,
or therapy. Used especially of a complication of treatment.
Dr. Starfield offers several warnings in interpreting
- First, most of the data are derived from studies in hospitalized
- Second, these estimates are for deaths only and do not
include negative effects that are associated with disability
- Third, the estimates of death due to error are lower than
those in the IOM report.1
If the higher estimates are used, the deaths due to iatrogenic
causes would range from 230,000 to 284,000. In any case, 225,000
deaths per year constitutes the third leading cause of death
in the United States, after deaths from heart disease and
cancer. 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
consecutive patients experience negative effects in outpatient
- 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
The high cost of the health care 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.
An estimated 44,000 to 98,000 among them die each year
as a result of medical errors.2
This might be tolerated if it resulted in better health,
but does it? Of 13 countries in a recent comparison, 3, 4
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 post neonatal mortality
- 13th for years of potential life lost (excluding external
- 11th for life expectancy at 1 year for females, 12th for
- 10th for life expectancy at 15 years for females, 12th
- 10th for life expectancy at 40 years for females, 9th
- 7th for life expectancy at 65 years for females, 7th for
- 3rd for life expectancy at 80 years for females, 3rd for
- 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
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 aged 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.
These estimates of death due to error are lower than those
in a recent Institutes of Medicine report, and if the higher
estimates are used, the deaths due to iatrogenic causes would
range from 230,000 to 284,000.
Even at the lower estimate of 225,000 deaths per year,
this constitutes the third leading cause of death in the US,
following heart disease and cancer.
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.
Journal American Medical
Association July 26, 2000; 284(4): 483-5
DR. MERCOLA'S COMMENT:
Folks, this is what they call a "Landmark Article".
Only several ones like this are published every year. One
of the major reasons it is so huge as that it is published
in JAMA which is the largest and one of the most respected
medical journals in the entire world.
I did find it most curious that the best wire service
in the world, Reuter's, did not pick up this article. I have
no idea why they let it slip by.
I would encourage you to bookmark this article and review
it several times so you can use the statistics to counter
the arguments of your friends and relatives who are so enthralled
with the traditional medical paradigm. These statistics prove
very clearly that the system is just not working. It is broken
and is in desperate need of repair.
I was previously fond of saying that drugs are the fourth
leading cause of death in this country. However, this article
makes it quite clear that the more powerful number is that
doctors are the third leading cause of death in this country
killing nearly a quarter million people a year. The only more
common causes are cancer and heart disease.
This statistic is likely to be seriously underestimated
as much of the coding only describes the cause of organ failure
and does not address iatrogenic causes at all.
Japan seems to have benefited from recognizing that technology
is wonderful, but just because you diagnose something with
it, one should not be committed to undergoing treatment in
the traditional paradigm. Their health statistics reflect
this aspect of their philosophy as much of their treatment
is not treatment at all, but loving care rendered in the home.
Care, not treatment, is the answer. Drugs, surgery and
hospitals are rarely the answer to chronic health problems.
Facilitating the God-given healing capacity that all of us
have is the key. Improving the diet, exercise, and lifestyle
Effective interventions for the underlying emotional and
spiritual wounding behind most chronic illness are also important
clues to maximizing health and reducing disease.
Author Affiliation: Department of Health Policy and Management,
Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, Baltimore,
Md. Corresponding Author and Reprints: Barbara Starfield,
MD, MPH, Department of Health Policy and Management, Johns
Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, 624 N Broadway,
Room 452, Baltimore, MD 21205-1996 (e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org).
Why Do God's People Suffer?
Your Belly Your God?
- The Deceptively Sweet Poison
Warfare 101 - Understanding The Tactics of Our Enemy
Dr. Joseph Mercola is trained in both traditional and natural medicine
and has been practicing natural medicine actively since 1990.
He is a (DO), Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine. DOs are complete
physicians who, along with MDs, are licensed to prescribe
medication and perform surgery in all 50 states. Osteopathic
physicians practice a "whole person" approach to
medicine, treating the entire person rather that just the
symptoms. With a focus on preventive health care, DOs help
patients develop attitudes and lifestyles that don't just
fight illness, but help prevent it, too. His website, Mercola.com
is one of the top ranking natural health sites!
2004 Dr. Joseph Mercola. All Rights Reserved. Used by Permission
© Copyright Gillis Triplett Ministries.
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