“Doctors Are The Third Leading Cause of Death in the US, Causing 225,000 Deaths Every Year”.

The author is Dr. Barbara Starfield of the John Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health. She describes how the US health care system may contribute to poor health.

All these are deaths per year:

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
These total to 225,000 deaths per year from iatrogenic causes!

What does the word iatrogenic mean? This term is defined as induced in a patient by a physician’s activity, manner or therapy. It is used especially to describe a complication of treatment.

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 figures and the next leading cause of death (cerebrovascular disease).

The author references another analyses which concluded that between 4% and 18% of consecutive 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

Journal American Medical Association July 26,2000;284(4):483-5

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