THE MEDICAL RENAISSANCE GROUP
Doctors Are The Third Leading Cause of Death in the US, Causing 250,000 Deaths Every Year
This articleis from the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) .
This information is a followup 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 journal. 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 desribes how the US health care system may contribute to poor health.
ALL THESE ARE DEATHS PER YEAR:
These total to 250,000 deaths per year from iatrogenic causes!!
The term iatrogenic 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 these numbers:
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 settings,with:
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:
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.
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.
Journal American Medical Association July 26, 2000;284(4):483-5
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