According to the groundbreaking 2003 medical report "Death by Medicine", by Drs. Gary Null, Carolyn Dean, Martin Feldman, Debora Rasio and Dorothy Smith, 783,936 people in the United States die every year from conventional medicine mistakes. That's the equivalent of six jumbo jet crashes a day for an entire year. But where is the media attention for this tragedy? Where is the government support for stopping these medical mistakes before they happen?
According to the study led by Null, which involved a painstaking review of thousands of medical records, the United States spends $282 billion annually on deaths due to medical mistakes, or iatrogenic deaths. And that's a conservative estimate; only a fraction of medical errors are reported, according to the study. Actual medical mistakes are likely to be 20 times higher than the reported number because doctors fear retaliation for those mistakes. The American public heads to the doctor's office or the hospital time and again, oblivious of the alarming danger they're heading into. The public knows that medical errors occur, but they assume that errors are unusual, isolated events.
Since Americans spend so much money on health care, they should be getting a high quality of care, right? Unfortunately, that's not the case. Of the 783,936 annual deaths due to conventional medical mistakes, about 106,000 are from prescription drugs, according to Death by Medicine. That also is a conservative number. Some experts estimate it should be more like 200,000 because of underreported cases of adverse drug reactions.
Americans today are used to fixing problems the quick way – even when it comes to their health. Thus, they rely heavily on prescription drugs to fix their diseases. For every conceivable ailment – real or not – chances are there's a pricey prescription drug to "treat" it. Chances are even better that their drug of choice comes chock full of side effects.
The problem is, prescription drugs don't treat diseases; they merely cover the symptoms. U.S. physicians provide allopathic health care – that is, they care for disease, not health. So, the over-prescription of drugs and medications is designed to treat disease instead of preventing it. And because there are so many drugs available, unforeseen adverse drug reactions are all too common, which leads to the highly conservative annual prescription drug death rate of 106,000. Keep in mind that these numbers came before the Vioxx scandal, and Cox-2 inhibitor drugs could ultimately end up killing tens of thousands more.
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