Premature Death | Dr. Ben Lerner

U.S. Health Care System Gets an ‘F’ * WASHINGTON — The nation’s youngest and oldest citizens are suffering the most from a fragmented, wasteful and dangerous health care system, according to a new study.

When compared with nearly two dozen other industrialized countries, the United States has the highest infant mortality rate and the lowest life expectancy for people who have reached age 60.

Those statistics were part of a new look at the U.S. health care system released Wednesday by the Commonwealth Fund’s Commission on a High Performance Health System. The study looked at 37 national indicators of health outcomes, quality, access, equity and efficiency and assigned a score to each.

The United States scored an average of 66 out of a possible 100, a failing grade.

Thousands could be saved if performance were improved in key areas, the nation could save an estimated 150,000 lives and perhaps as much as $100 billion annually, the report’s authors concluded.

Given that the United States spends more on health care than any other country, it should be doing better, said Cathy Schoen, senior vice president of the Commonwealth Fund.

•Six years after a landmark report on medical errors, the United States still lacks an error-reporting system to assess safety. In the past two years, one-third of patients reported a medical, medication or lab test mistake. (Only 10% of these are reported/admitted medical errors) The Commonwealth Fund is a private foundation supporting independent research on health and social issues.

I took Philosophy in college. We learned the “If — then” rule of “Cause — effect”. The two times medical intervention is at it’s highest in the U.S. are at birth and after sixty. IF this were a good thing, THEN these would be the two times in life where we would be the healthiest. The truth, however, is that we have the highest chance of death in the world before two and after fifty-nine. Therefore, IF there’s more medical intervention at before two and after fifty-nine and this is when we have the highest chance of death, THEN more medical intervention is responsible for those deaths.

Clearly, people, insurance companies, and businesses should be investing in health and not ‘protection’ from disease and pain. Time and money spent on chiropractic care saves millions of lives and prevents the spending of billions of dollars on drugs and surgery. Plus, chiropractic intervention guarantees that you’re actually well –unlike the results of taking dangerous drugs. The allure of chiropractic and its ability to heal convinced me to jump ship and get a degree in nutrition instead. After college, armed with information, I went on to become a chiropractor.

The study seen above shows that U.S. medical doctors have it all wrong when it comes to medicine, and instead could be seen as incredibly dangerous people. While they don’t intend to do more harm than good, they partake in a system that should have been reviewed a long time ago.

The word iatrogenic means death induced in a patient by a physician’s activity, manner, or therapy. This term is used especially if there is a complication following a treatment or during the course of stay at a hospital. The people who die due to what are classified as “iatrogenic causes” are people who would not have died if doctors had properly diagnosed and treated them.

While some studies, using limited numbers, have the iatrogenic deaths listed as the third leading cause of death in America1 new research shows that the estimated total number of deaths induced inadvertently by a physician or surgeon or by medical treatment or diagnostic procedures in the U.S. annually falls between 783,936 and 999,936. 2 From these numbers it becomes evident that our conventional, modern medical system is itself the leading cause of death and injury in the U.S. as approximately 553,251 died of cancer, and an astonishing 699,697 Americans died of heart disease in 2001. 3

These numbers are established from the total deaths directly derived from adverse drug reactions 4, medical error 5, bedsores 6, infection 7, malnutrition in hospitals8, outpatients9, unnecessary procedures10, and those related to surgery11.

For fear of being sued and other negative repercussions, as few as 5 percent and no more than 20 percent of iatrogenic acts are ever reported by doctors or hospitals12. This implies that if medical errors were completely and accurately reported, we would have an iatrogenic death toll much higher than 783,936 — 999,936 annually. You see examples of this in the media every day. Drugs like Vioxx, Avandia, Rezulin, and Paxil have all made recent news for causing tens of thousands of deaths. It wasn’t until international celebrities such as Health Ledger and Anna Nicole Smith became victims of legally prescribed prescription medication that our own nation began to take a closer look at the fatal outcome of these medications.


1 Journal American Medical Association. 284.4 (2000): 483-5

2 Null, Gary, et al. “Death by Medicine”. Life Extension. 10 March 2008.

3 United States. National Center for Health Statistics. National Vital Statistics Report. 51.5 (2003).

4 United States. National Patient Safety Foundation. Nationwide Poll on Patient Safety: 100 Million Americans See Medical Mistakes Directly Touching Them. Virginia: McLean, 1997.

5 Thomas, EJ, et al. “Incidence and Types of Adverse Events and Negligent Care in Utah and Colorado”. Med Care. 2000 38(3):261-71.

“Costs of Medical Injuries in Utah and Colorado” . Inquiry. 1999 36(3): 255-64.

6 Barczak CA, RI Barnett, EJ Childs, and LM Bosley. “Fourth National Pressure Ulcer Prevalence Survey”. Adv Wound Care. 10.4 (1997): 18-26. Xakellis, GC, R. Frantz, A Lewis. “Cost of Pressure Ulcer Prevention in Long-Term Care”. Journal of the American Geriatric Society. 43.5 (1995): 496-501.

7 Weinstein, RA. “Nosocomial Infection Update”. Emerging Infectious Disease Journal. 4.3 (1998): 416-20.

8 Burger, SG, J Kayser-Jones, and JP Bell. “Malnutrition and Dehydration in Nursing Homes: Key Issues in Prevention and Treatment”. National Citizens’ Coalition for Nursing Home Reform. June 2000. 13 December 2003.

9 Starfield, B. “Is US Health Really the Best in the World?” Journal of the American Medical Association. 284.4 (2000): 483-5.

11 Tunis, SR, H Gelband. “Healthcare Technology in the United States”.

Health Policy. 30.1-3 (1994): 335-96.

12 Bates, DW. “Drugs and Adverse Drug Reactions: How Worried Should We Be?” Journal of the American Medical Association. 279.15 (1998): 1216-7.

Dickinson, JG. “FDA Seeks to Double Effort on Confusing Drug Names”. Dickinson ‘s FDA Review . 7.3 (2000): 13-4.

Grinfeld, MJ. “The Debate Over Medical Error Reporting” Psychiatric Times. April 2000.

Leape, LL. “Error in Medicine”. Journal of the American Medical Association. 272.23 (1994): 1851-7.

Vincent, C, N. Stanhope, M. Crowley-Murphy. “Reasons For Not Reporting Adverse Incidents: An Empirical Study”. Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice. 5.1 (1999): 13-21.

Wald, H, and KG Shojania. “Making Health Care Safer: A Critical Analysis of Patient Safety Practices”. Evidence Report/Technology Assessment. Shojania, KG, BW Duncan, KM McDonald, et al, eds. Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 2001.

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