Friday, September 10, 2010

Hospitals are Hazardous to Your Health! (Part 1)

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Hospital botches operation causing healthy woman to lose both legs
Monday, November 29, 2010 by: Ethan A. Huff, staff writer
(NaturalNews) Going to hospital these days for even the simplest medical treatments has become a high-risk activity that could result in serious injury or death. A recent story in the New York Daily News tells of Stacey Galette, a 30-year-old woman who lost both her legs due to a surgical error. Galette says she was perfectly healthy when admitted to Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola, New York, two years ago, but a day later, her life would change forever.
According to reports, Galette's surgeons punctured her intestines during a simply gynecological surgery, which triggered an infection that spread to her legs. Her blood became poisoned and her legs developed gangrene, which eventually resulted in them having to be amputated.
"It's horrifying," explained Galette's lawyer Sanford Rubenstein, to the New York Daily News. "She will be spending the rest of her life with a below-the-knees amputation, all because the doctors didn't follow accepted medical practice."
Before the surgery, Galette was healthy, married, and worked a full-time job. Today, she is in the process of a divorce, lives with her mother, and remains on disability because she is unable to work. She also permanently lost some of her hearing after being put into an induced coma for three weeks following surgery-induced cardiac arrest.
A 1995 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association explained that more than a million people are injured at hospitals every year, and roughly 280,000 die every year from these injuries (http://www.naturalnews.com/023892_h...). Bacterial "superbugs", surgical errors, poor care and improper drug and dosage administration, are just a few of the many complications that often arise at hospitals that can cost patients their lives.
Currently, there is no way to identify which hospitals have the worst error rates. So patients have no way to compare hospitals and make an informed decision about which one to choose.
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Fatal downside of medical tourism
Why Canadians would travel abroad for a medical procedure is no mystery
By Catherine Ford, Columnist, Troy Media
Sunday, September 12, 2010
Medical tourism is one of those benign phrases that conjures up happy thoughts of a little liposuction while lolling about on a beach in some exotic port.
Nobody expects New Delhi-metallo-beta-lactamase, the newest so-called superbug as a souvenir. Referred to as NDM-1, the antibiotic-resistant bacteria contains a gene that resists treatment by medicine’s most powerful drugs. It has already killed one Belgian man while two Canadians — one in Alberta, the other in British Columbia who returned home from their medical adventure unwittingly carrying NDM-1 — were successfully treated.
Experts are predicting a 10-year-window before the bacteria becomes resistant to all treatment, a sort of medical End-of-Days firestorm. The British medical journal, The Lancet, reported 37 cases of the infection so far, most picked up after medical procedures on the Indian subcontinent. With the kind of speed and hot denials seen when any lucrative business is threatened with bad publicity, officials in India are flatly denying any link and just as vehemently objecting to the gene being named for the capital city of India.
So much for benign tourism
Why Canadians would travel abroad for a medical procedure is no mystery. With a universal health system that separates the merely needy from the medically necessary, people get tired waiting for treatment they believe their right because of citizenship.
Few should criticize those who seek an end to daily pain. After watching a relative struggle to walk—knowing that the system offers little hope of a hip replacement inside a year - it’s easy to understand why people who can afford a ticket elsewhere, do so.
India has become a destination of choice. English is the lingua franca, the country has competent and highly qualified doctors and hospitals, and clinics are set up to treat and pamper foreigners with money. All-in package tours are available, just name the operation and arrangements will be made. And, as a bonus, a little tourism after surgery can be arranged - should the patient feel up to it.
Unless a superbug drops hundreds of people in their tracks, it doesn’t take a skeptic to predict that medical tourism will only grow more popular each year.
How big a deal is such tourism?
The third World Medical Tourism and Global Health Congress is slated for Los Angeles the end of September. The city of narcissists seems an appropriate place to hold such a conference, which expects up to 2,000 delegates from more than 60 countries, likely including the six top medical tourist destinations — Costa Rica, India, Israel, Korea, Mexico and Thailand.
And according to the medical tourism Web site, the favoured medical procedures are hip and knee replacements, anterior-cruciate ligament surgery (a common injury for athletes), root canals and spinal fusion.
Root canal procedure in India
I’m still trying to get my head around someone going all the way to India for a root canal procedure. Perhaps his or her dentist isn’t as pleasant as mine, or doesn’t use enough drugs to fell an elephant, causing the dreaded root canal procedure to be a foggy memory, even as it is being performed.
But my skeptical nature believes the bulk of medical tourists are women who can’t afford plastic surgery here and are willing to put their faces into the hands of an unknown doctor.
The good thing about the Canadian health care system is that it snaps into dramatic action in an emergency. The bad thing is that the prospective patient is not, as former U.S. President George W. Bush put it, “the decider.”
The power of money and position
It’s the system which decides who goes first, who goes last, and who goes anywhere at all. Should you be the designated caboose of the health care train, the temptation to take your needs and money elsewhere is compelling. When Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams needed heart surgery, he didn’t stand in line in St. John’s for his number to fall into the roulette wheel. He hied himself off to the U.S.
It’s his money, and he can spend it as he wishes although the political optics leaves a lot to be desired.
Going to the States for medical procedures is not new. Some justify this as a method of clearing up some of the backlog in Canada’s hospitals.
But between the rich who can buy immediate care and the poor who have no choice is a giant middle class who want what the rich can buy.
Want a cheaper face-lift? Go to India. Need some inexpensive liposuction? Go to Thailand. Don’t want to wait until hell freezes over for a joint replacement? Offshore surgeons and hospitals are ready and waiting.
And while bringing back an antibiotic resistant infection is not advertised as part of your medical tourism package, forewarned is forearmed.
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Hospital Errors Continue to Kill Patients
Posted By Dr. Mercola
September 10 2010
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2010/09/10/us-inaction-lets-lookalike-tubes-kill-patients.aspx
Hundreds of deaths and serious injuries can be attributed to mix-ups with similar-looking types of medical tubing. Experts and standards groups have long advocated that tubes for different purposes be made so that they are incompatible with each other.
However, this has been delayed by resistance from the medical-device industry, as well as an FDA approval process that can discourage safety-related changes.
The New York Times reports:
“Tubes intended to inflate blood-pressure cuffs have been connected to intravenous lines, leading to deadly air embolisms. Intravenous fluids have been connected to tubes intended to deliver oxygen, leading to suffocation. And in 2006 Julie Thao, a nurse ... mistakenly put a spinal anesthetic into a vein, killing 16-year-old Jasmine Gant, who was giving birth.”
Dr. Mercola's Comments:
Many people regard hospitals as safe havens -- places where all of their medical needs can be fixed up and healed. But for far too many, walking into a hospital for a treatable condition turns out to be a death sentence.
This was exactly the case for 24-year-old Robin Rodgers, who was hospitalized at 35 weeks pregnant due to vomiting and weight loss.
As the New York Times reported, this otherwise healthy young woman and her unborn daughter died after a feeding tube was mistakenly connected to an intravenous line, sending liquid food directly into her veins -- a fatal, and completely avoidable, mistake.
In cases like these it’s difficult to say where the fault lies, but the very design of medical tubing deserves at least part of the blame.
Medical Tubing Errors Common
Medical tubing serves a variety of unique purposes in hospitals, for instance delivering medication, fluids, food, gases or blood to different areas of the body – the veins, arteries, stomach, lungs, etc.
Unfortunately, many varieties of medical tubing are interchangeable and easily connectable, meaning it is very simple to mistakenly connect a feeding tube to an intravenous line, or IV fluids to an oxygen tube, leading to suffocation.
The New York Times also reported a case where a spinal anesthetic used for pain relief during childbirth was mistakenly put into a vein, killing the 16-year-old recipient.
With nurses often working overtime or covering too many patients at once, it is all too easy to connect a tube improperly, leading to an often fatal outcome for the patient.
A simple solution would be to change the design of the tubes so tubing for different functions are no longer compatible with one another, but so far the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been slow to take action.
Why Doesn’t the FDA Put an End to Medical Tube Mishaps?
Despite the fact that medical tubing errors occur commonly at hospitals, the FDA continues to approve tubes that are hooked up using interchangeable connectors that go into the stomach, the veins, and so on. Their reasoning behind this is because the new tubes are no more dangerous than those already on the market, so they cannot be denied.
In other words, the FDA knowingly allows potentially dangerous devices to continue to infiltrate the medical market rather than requiring the safety flaws be fixed. Even the FDA has acknowledged that the system used for medical device approvals contains flaws, and they have released a preliminary assessment aimed at overhauling the system.
Still, nine FDA employees have already claimed the FDA’s device approval process has so many flaws it is “illegal and dangerous,” according to the New York Times. One former FDA device reviewer, Dr. Robert Smith, left the agency in July over this very issue, telling the Times:
“The FDA could fix this tubing problem tomorrow, but because the agency is so worried about making industry happy, people continue to die.”
For now, tubing mix-ups will likely continue at hospitals around the world, adding to the already high incidence of completely avoidable hospital medical mishaps.
Hospital Risks Soar to Unacceptable Levels
One of the reasons I am so passionate about sharing the information on this site about healthy eating, exercise, and stress management with you is because it can help keep you OUT of the hospital.
Unless you have an emergency, you are best served by avoiding hospitals because of medical errors, superbugs, and other dangers that lurk there. Remember that the hospital is not a safe place.
Unfortunately, it is becoming all too common for people to go into the hospital for a “routine” surgery or medical procedure, only to contract a severe hospital-acquired infection or succumb to an adverse drug reaction or other medication mishap.
According to the latest study, “patient safety incidents,” which is a nice way of saying “preventable medical mistakes,” are common in U.S. hospitals. In all, over the years 2006-2008 there were nearly 1 million incidents among Medicare patients, and one in 10 of them were deadly.
A HealthGrades report even pointed out that “the incidence rate of medical harm occurring is estimated to be over 40,000 each and EVERY day according to the Institute for Healthcare Improvement!”
Most people, including most health care professionals, simply do not understand that hospitals account for over ONE-THIRD of the $2.5 trillion the United States spends for "health care." This is TRIPLE what we surrender to drug companies.
It would not be so bad if we actually received major benefits for this investment, but, as this report -- and others -- illustrate, this frequently is not the case.
The U.S. now ranks LAST out of 19 countries for unnecessary deaths -- deaths that could have been avoided through timely and effective medical care. Additionally, one-third of adults with health problems reported mistakes in their care in 2007, and rates of visits to physicians or emergency departments for adverse drug effects increased by one-third between 2001 and 2004.
In the United States, more than 2 million people are affected by hospital-acquired infections every year as well, and 100,000 people die as a result.
In essence, what we have here is a trend of health care costs rising, mistakes increasing, and pharmaceutical drug-induced side effects and deaths skyrocketing.
How to Stay Out of Hospitals …
As I said earlier, your best strategy is to support and nourish your health so you can stay OUT of hospitals as much as possible.
You can take control of your health by following my free comprehensive online recommendations, which contains tools that will help you to reduce your reliance on the broken health care system in the United States.
The guidelines that follow are more basic strategies to live by; strategies that will boost your health and well-being naturally to keep you out of the hospital and enjoying life!
Address your emotional traumas and manage your stress
Get optimal exposure to sunlight or a safe tanning bed or take oral vitamin D if this is not possible
Drink plenty of clean water
Limit your exposure to toxins
Consume healthy fat
Eat a healthy diet that’s right for your nutritional type (paying very careful attention to keeping your insulin levels down)
Eat plenty of raw food
Optimize your insulin and leptin levels
Exercise
Get plenty of good sleep
Tips for Staying Safe if You’re Hospitalized
In the event that you are hospitalized, you should know that all are not created equal.
The HealthGrades 2010 report found major discrepancies in medical errors between the hospitals at the top of the list and those at the bottom, so if you have a choice of hospitals, do your research first. You can find patient-safety ratings at hospitals across the United States from the HealthGrades Web site.
Likewise, deaths attributed to medication errors rise by as much as 25 percent above normal in the first few days of every month, because there often isn't enough staff to handle the beginning-of-the-month spike in prescriptions. Being admitted on a Friday has also been linked to longer hospital stays, so if you can time your stay to avoid these periods, so much the better.
If you are going there for elective therapy it would also be best to avoid going in July, as that is the most dangerous time of the year in hospitals due to staff turnover.
You should also take it upon yourself to be your own patient safety advocate or, if you’re not able, ask a friend or family member to do so. Do not hesitate to ask about medications or medical procedures you’re receiving, including asking your nurse or doctor to verify that you’re receiving the proper dosages and not being given medications that can interact with one another.
You can even mention this article about tubing mishaps and ask your nurse to double-check the connections before hooking any tubing up. They may not like that you’re checking up on them, but this is your life at stake, so don’t worry about offending anyone.
It is perfectly within your rights to stay informed about the hospital procedures being performed on you, and I highly recommend you do so as much as possible to help lessen your chances of falling victim to a hospital medical mishap.
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U.S. Hospitals Fail to Improve Patient Safety and Injure and Kill Thousands Every Day
Posted By Dr. Mercola
April 13 2010
Nearly 1 million patient-safety incidents occurred among Medicare patients over the years 2006, 2007, and 2008 -- the figure remained virtually unchanged since last year’s annual study. In all, the incidents were associated with $8.9 billion in costs.
Some of the most common and most serious indicators even worsened, including decubitus ulcer (bed sores), iatrogenic pneumothorax (collapsed lung), post-operative hip fracture, post-operative physiologic and metabolic derangements, post-operative pulmonary embolism (potentially fatal blood clots forming in the lungs) or deep vein thrombosis (blood clots in the legs), post-operative sepsis, and transfusion reaction.
One in 10 patients -- almost 100,000 people all told -- experiencing a patient-safety incident died as a result.
Patients at hospitals in the top 5 percent experienced 43 percent fewer patient safety incidents, on average. If all hospitals performed at this level, more than 218,000 patient safety incidents and over 22,000 deaths could potentially have been avoided, saving $2 billion over three years.
Dr. Mercola's Comments:
I have said it before and I’m going to say it again now: I recommend avoiding hospitals whenever practically possible as they are one of the most unhealthy environments to be in.
About the only time they are appropriate is to recover from the results of unexpected accidental traumas or repair surgical emergencies like appendicitis.
Unfortunately, it is becoming all too common for people to go into the hospital for a “routine” surgery or medical procedure, only to contract a severe hospital-acquired infection or succumb to an adverse drug reaction or other medication mishap.
According to the latest study, “patient safety incidents,” which is a nice way of saying “preventable medical mistakes,” are common in U.S. hospitals. In all, over the years 2006-2008, there were nearly 1 million incidents among Medicare patients, and one in 10 of them were deadly.
What Does the Most Expensive Health Care System in the World Get You?
40,000 medical mistakes a day …
That’s right. The HealthGrades report pointed out that “the incidence rate of medical harm occurring is estimated to be over 40,000 each and EVERY day according to the Institute for Healthcare Improvement!”
Most people, including most health care professionals, simply do not understand that hospitals account for over ONE-THIRD of the $2.5 trillion the United States spends for "health care." This is TRIPLE what we surrender to drug companies.
It would not be so bad if we actually received major benefits for this investment, but, as this report -- and others -- illustrate, this frequently is not the case.
Ten years ago, Professor Bruce Pomerance of the University of Toronto concluded that properly prescribed and correctly taken pharmaceutical drugs were the fourth leading cause of death in North America.
More recently, Johns Hopkins Medical School refined this research and discovered that medical errors and prescription drugs may actually be the LEADING cause of death, outpacing cancer (which is now our deadliest disease).
Your Health May Not be Safe in the Hands of the U.S. Medical Care System
The U.S. health system is in a continual downward spiral -- something I’ve been warning people about for more than two decades -- and despite the ever-increasing amounts of money invested, your chances of achieving optimal health through it are only getting worse.
The U.S. now ranks LAST out of 19 countries for unnecessary deaths -- deaths that could have been avoided through timely and effective medical care. Additionally, one-third of adults with health problems reported mistakes in their care in 2007, and rates of visits to physicians or emergency departments for adverse drug effects increased by one-third between 2001 and 2004.
In the United States, more than 2 million people are affected by hospital-acquired infections every year as well, and 100,000 people die as a result.
In essence, what we have here is a trend of health care costs rising, mistakes increasing, and pharmaceutical drug-induced side effects and deaths skyrocketing.
If You Must Go Into a Hospital, Do Your Homework …
In the event that you must go to a hospital, you should know that all are not created equal.
The HealthGrades 2010 report found major discrepancies between the hospitals at the top of the list and those at the bottom:
“Patients at hospitals in the top 5% -- 2010 HealthGrades Patient Safety Excellence Award™ recipients -- experienced 43% fewer patient safety incidents, on average, compared to poorly performing hospitals. If all hospitals performed at this level, 218,572 patient safety incidents and 22,590 deaths could potentially have been avoided, saving $2.0 billion from 2006 through 2008.”
You can find patient-safety ratings at hospitals across the United States from the HealthGrades Web site.
Likewise, deaths attributed to medication errors rise by as much as 25 percent above normal in the first few days of every month, because there often isn't enough staff to handle the beginning-of-the-month spike in prescriptions. Being admitted on a Friday has also been linked to longer hospital stays, so if you can time your stay to avoid these periods, so much the better.
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Why are 48,000 Hospital-Stays per Year in the US Ending in Death?
Posted By Dr. Mercola
March 13 2010
In the United States, two common conditions caused by hospital-acquired infections killed 48,000 people and ramped up health care costs by $8.1 billion in 2006 alone, according to a recent study.
This is the largest nationally representative study of the toll taken by sepsis and pneumonia, two conditions often caused by deadly microbes, including the antibiotic-resistant bacteria MRSA.
Such infections can lead to longer hospital stays, serious complications and even death.
Researchers analyzed 69 million discharge records from hospitals in 40 states and identified two conditions caused by health care-associated infections: sepsis, a potentially lethal systemic response to infection and pneumonia, an infection of the lungs and respiratory tract.
Dr. Mercola's Comments:
One of the reasons I am so passionate about sharing the information on this site about healthy eating, exercise, and stress management with you is because it can help keep you OUT of the hospital.
A hospital is the last place you want to be, as it’s in these health care settings that superbugs like MRSA run rampant. It is becoming increasingly common for healthy people to enter a hospital for a “routine” surgery, only to come down with a hospital-acquired infection (HAI) and become seriously ill … or even die.
In the largest nationally representative study to date, it was found that 48,000 people died due to sepsis or pneumonia caused by hospital-acquired infections. The saddest part is, virtually every one of these infections could likely have been prevented with better infection control in hospitals.
So, unless you have an emergency, I recommend avoiding hospitals as much as possible. They are prime breeding grounds for infections of all kinds and could be one of the likeliest places you could be exposed to an antibiotic-resistant bug.
Just the Tip of the Iceberg
The 48,000 death toll reported by researchers only represents deaths from two conditions caused by HAIs, which means it’s only a smattering of the total carnage these HAIs truly cause.
In the United States, more than 2 million people are affected by hospital-acquired infections every year, and 100,000 people die as a result.
Most people, including most health care professionals, simply do not understand that hospitals account for over ONE-THIRD of the $2.5 trillion the United States spends for "health care." This is TRIPLE what we surrender to drug companies.
It would not be so bad if we actually received major benefits for this investment, but, as this article illustrates, this frequently is not the case.
Why are Hospitals Breeding Grounds for Germs?
Recent studies have shown that hospital-acquired infections are not a normal side-effect of caring for the seriously ill, but are generally caused by poor medical care! This includes not only contaminated medical devices but also spreading germs from patient-to-patient.
Doctors and nurses not washing their hands prior to touching a patient is the most common violation in hospitals. According to findings by The Times, in the worst cases, as few as 40 percent of staff members comply with hand-washing standards, with doctors being the worst offenders.
But even the best hospitals typically boast no better than 90 percent compliance -- which means one out of 10 practitioners may have contaminated hands.
Doctors’ ties and even their white coats have also been implicated as potential causes of infection.
At the University of Maryland, the Wall Street Journal reported that 65% of medical workers said they change their lab coats less than once a week -- despite acknowledging they were contaminated. Worse still, 15% said they change their coat less than once a month, even though superbugs like staph can survive on them for nearly 60 days!
Antibiotic-Resistant Superbugs on the Rise
HAIs are frequently caused by antibiotic-resistant microbes, making the infections increasingly difficult to treat.
In Washington hospitals, for instance, patients infected with the antibiotic-resistant germ called MRSA have skyrocketed from about 140 a year to more than 4,700.
Unlike typical staph bacteria, MRSA is much more dangerous because it has become resistant to the broad-spectrum antibiotics commonly used to treat it, such as methicillin, oxacillin, penicillin and amoxicillin.
This “super bug” is constantly adapting, meaning it is capable of outsmarting even new antibiotics that come on the market.
Because MRSA can be so difficult to treat, it can easily progress from a superficial skin infection to a life-threatening infection in your bones, joints, bloodstream, heart valves, lungs, or surgical wounds.
There are other antibiotic-resistant bugs on the rise, too, including gram-negative bacteria, which can cause severe pneumonia and infections of the urinary tract and bloodstream. According to one New York Times report, this category of bacteria are already killing tens of thousands of hospital patients each year.
What’s Spurring the Rise of Antibiotic-Resistant Bugs?
In order to effectively combat this epidemic problem, it’s important to realize that antibiotic-resistant disease is a man-made problem, caused by overuse of antibiotics both in health care and, even more so, in agriculture. It is not merely a lack of hygiene or proper disinfection techniques that have brought these super bugs to the point of being impervious to nearly all medications we have at our disposal.
About 70 percent of antibiotic use in the United States is for agricultural purposes. Animals are often fed antibiotics at low doses for disease prevention and growth promotion, and those antibiotics are transferred to you via meat and even manure used for fertilizer.
So, the agriculture industry’s practice of using antibiotics, along with the overuse of antibiotics for medicine, is indeed a driving force behind the development of antibiotic resistance in a now wide variety of bacteria that cause human disease.
How to Minimize Your Risk of a Hospital-Acquired Infection
Going into the hospital should always be viewed as the option of last resort, when you have exhausted all others. Not only do you risk developing a life-threatening infection, but hospitals all-too-frequently are giving you the wrong solution for your problem.
Ten years ago, Professor Bruce Pomerance of the University of Toronto concluded that properly prescribed and correctly taken pharmaceutical drugs were the fourth leading cause of death in North America.
More recently, Johns Hopkins Medical School refined this research and discovered that medical errors and prescription drugs may actually be the LEADING cause of death, outpacing cancer (which is now our deadliest disease).
I do want to make it clear however, that I am very grateful for the amazing dedication and commitment that created the U.S. national trauma system network. The dedicated physicians in the ER are probably the most appropriate application of the conventional medical model. They have saved and benefited countless lives through the application of their principles.
However ER medicine is best for acute accidents and nearly always an unmitigated disaster when it is applied for chronic degenerative illnesses. Likewise, there are countless unnecessary surgeries performed in hospitals every year for problems that could have been addressed with less invasive, natural methods and health principles.
Far too many negative health and lifestyle choices are made because of a lack of knowledge, and it's my intention to increase your awareness of the health tragedies facing the U.S., and empower you with the tools needed to become a force for good health so you can stay out of the hospital as much as possible.
Fortunately, there are a number of basic strategies you can use to avoid getting sucked into the current disease-care paradigm. Following these guidelines will be a powerful way to improve your health so that you can stay OUT of the hospital, and live a longer, more vibrant life.
Address your emotional traumas and manage your stress
Get optimal exposure to sunlight or a safe tanning bed, or take oral vitamin D this is not possible
Drink plenty of clean pure water and avoid all sodas and fruit juices
Limit your exposure to toxins
Consume healthy fat
Eat a healthy diet that’s right for your nutritional type (paying very careful attention to keeping your insulin levels down)
Eat plenty of raw food
Optimize your fasting insulin and leptin levels
Exercise regularly
Get plenty of good sleep
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How Hospitals are Killing ER Patients
Posted By Dr. Mercola
August 28 2008
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2008/08/28/how-hospitals-are-killing-er-patients.aspx
In June, Esmin Green, a 49-year-old mother of six, tumbled off her chair and onto the floor of the Kings County psychiatric ER waiting room in New York City. She'd been waiting for a psychiatric-unit bed to open up for more than 24 hours. Members of the hospital staff saw her lying there but did nothing for about an hour.
When Green was finally brought into the ER, she was dead. An autopsy revealed that she died from a pulmonary embolism, a blot clot in the legs which traveled to her lungs.
Why was Green sitting and waiting for so long while blood pooled in her legs? Despite increasing evidence that crowded ER’s can be hazardous to your health, hospitals have incentives to keep their ER patients waiting. As a result, there has been an explosion in ER wait times over the past few years, even for those who are the sickest.
A major cause for ER crowding is the hospital practice of boarding inpatients in emergency departments. If there are no inpatient beds in the hospital then the patient stays in the ER long past the completion of the initial emergency work. The problem is that boarding shifts ER resources away from the new patients in the waiting room. A recent study found that critically ill patients who board for more than six hours in the ER are 4 percent more likely to die.
What hospital would promote such a practice?
Those that make money off of it. There are two competing sources for inpatient beds. The first source is patients who come in through direct and transfer admissions. They are more likely to come with private insurance and need procedural care, both of which maximize profits. The second source is ER patients, who are more likely to be uninsured or have low-paying Medicaid.
Dr. Mercola's Comments:
This article will hopefully serve as yet another major wake-up call to Americans, providing solid evidence that the conventional health care system is desperately in need of radical change. Facilitating this change is a substantial part of my vision.
I do want to make it clear however, that I am very grateful for the amazing dedication and commitment that created the U.S. national trauma system network. Accidents are part of living and the dedicated physicians in the ER are probably the most appropriate application of the conventional medical model. They have saved and benefited countless lives through the application of their principles.
However ER medicine is best for acute accidents and nearly always an unmitigated disaster when it is applied for chronic degenerative illnesses.
Far too many negative health and lifestyle choices are made because of a lack of knowledge, and it's my intention to increase your awareness of the health tragedies facing the U.S., and empower you with the tools needed to become a force for good health.
A More Efficient Killing Machine than Cancer
You’re probably already aware that the U.S. has the most expensive health care in the world.
Ten years ago, Professor Bruce Pomerance of the University of Toronto concluded that properly prescribed and correctly taken pharmaceutical drugs were the fourth leading cause of death in North America. More recently, Johns Hopkins Medical School refined this research and discovered that medical errors and prescription drugs may acutally be the LEADING cause of death, outpacing cancer (which is now our deadliest disease).
This year the U.S. will spend $2.5 trillion dollars on health care, but by 2017, health care spending is projected to exceed $4 TRILLION. (This is largely due to the costs of drugs and surgery and a reliance on a medical system that treats only symptoms and never the cause of disease.)
I wouldn’t mind it one bit if spending two and half trillion dollars provided major health benefits, but as recent studies have shown, this large multitrillion dollar investment is an unmitigated failure.
The 2008 Scorecard by the Commonwealth Fund commission confirms that the U.S. health system is in a continual downward spiral – something I’ve been warning people about for more than two decades -- and despite the ever-increasing amounts of money invested, your chances of attaining good health through it are only getting worse.
The U.S. now ranks LAST out of 19 countries for unnecessary deaths – deaths that could have been avoided through timely and effective medical care. Additionally, one-third of adults with health problems reported mistakes in their care in 2007, and rates of visits to physicians or emergency departments for adverse drug effects increased by one-third between 2001 and 2004.
In essence, what we have here is a trend of health care costs rising, mistakes increasing, and pharmaceutical drug-induced side effects and deaths skyrocketing.
What’s NOT wrong with this picture?
Lackadaisical Attitudes in the Face of Grave Mistakes
Unfortunately, surveys have also found that physicians, nurses and other health care workers rarely challenge a colleague when they see a mistake being made in patient care.
For a previous study, researchers spent more than 10,000 hours observing and interviewing more than 2,000 health workers at 19 hospitals across America. Among the disturbing evidence they found:
Doctors (84 percent) and nurses and other health care providers (62 percent) have seen co-workers repeatedly take shortcuts that could place patients in danger
Doctors (88 percent) and nurses and other health care providers (48 percent) work with people who show poor clinical judgment
Fewer than 10 percent of doctors, nurses and other caregivers said they directly confront colleagues about their concerns; one-fifth of those doctors have seen harm come to patients as a result of the behavior of those colleagues
Mrs. Green’s demise, captured on video - leaving nothing to the imagination, highlights and brings these problematic attitudes to the fore. The complete and utter absence of compassion and care exhibited by the staff at Kings County psychiatric ER is truly chilling.
The Lifespan of the American Poor Continues to Drop
According to the Centers of Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) -- which tracks health care spending -- the U.S. national health expenditure (NHE) grew 6.7 percent in 2006 to $2.1 trillion ($7,026 per person), and accounted for a whopping 16 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Prescription drug spending increased by 5.8 percent that same year.
But despite all these trillions of dollars being spent – more than any socialist-driven health care system – Americans, and especially the poor, are receiving ever-worsening quality of health care – the proof of which lies in the dropping life expectancy statistics.
Considering the fact that life expectancy in the United States as a whole has actually risen by more than six years for women, and seven years for men from 1961 to 1999, the current statistics highlights the problem of poverty combined with unhealthy lifestyles, lack of preventive care, and the exorbitant cost for mediocre health care.
On the one hand, Americans have been spending more and more money on health care over the past decades, yet the life expectancy of certain groups is going down. Clearly, the system is not designed to really care for anyone, but rather to extract maximum profit.
If you think that’s too strong a statement, consider this: The explanation for the decline in life expectancy in certain areas and income brackets is that it’s primarily caused by a rise in common diseases such as lung cancer, chronic lung disease, and diabetes.
The sadly ironic fact is that these are also some of the diseases that are completely preventable, and – especially in the case of diabetes – 100 percent treatable with fairly simple lifestyle changes, many of which cost nothing!
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U.S. Paying Through the Nose for Poor Quality Health Care
Posted By Dr. Mercola
August 07 2008
American medical care is the most expensive in the world, and it is definitely not worth every penny. A recent study by the Commonwealth Fund highlights the stark contrast between what the United States spends on its health system and the quality of care it delivers.
The report shows that the United States spends more than twice as much on each person for health care as most other industrialized countries. But it has fallen to last place among those countries in preventing avoidable deaths through use of timely and effective medical care.
The latest American Human Development Index by the Social Science Research Board also reveals shocking results: the U.S. ranks 42nd in global life expectancy, and 34th in survival of infants.
Additionally, a 30- year gap now exists in the average life expectancy between Mississippi, in the Deep South, and Connecticut, in prosperous New England.
Huge disparities have also opened up in income, health and education depending on where people live in the US, according to the report.
These findings are likely to provide supporting evidence for the notion that the nation’s health care system needs to be fixed.
Dr. Mercola's Comments:
There’s no doubt that the U.S. health care system is in dire need of a radical overhaul. However, I want to make it perfectly clear that what’s NOT needed is:
more stringent drug treatment protocols
more inoculations for every potential disease known to man, nor
increased use of “preventive drug treatments,” such as administering statin drugs to obese pre-teens or handing out antidepressants to pregnant women to ward off potential baby blues
All of these ideas are firmly entrenched as being “good medicine,” and are part and parcel of the current conventional “health care” paradigm.
The idea that prescription drugs prevent and cure disease -- that is what has to change if Americans want to increase their health, happiness, longevity, and standard of living.
Do You Expect to Get What You Pay For?
If you’re like most people, you probably have certain expectations about the quality of the products you buy. You probably expect your laptop computer to make it through at least a year or two before crashing, or your car to operate smoothly for a certain number of miles before needing to pay for additional repairs, for example.
So, what do you expect to get when you’re faced with an ailment or disease and your physician – or worse yet, a slick advertisement -- “sells” you on a particular surgical procedure or drug treatment?
Do you expect it to improve your health and live up to its advertised ideals?
Well, what this 2008 Scorecard confirms is that the U.S. health system is in a continual downward spiral – something I’ve been warning people about for more than two decades -- and despite the ever-increasing amounts of money invested, your chances of attaining good health through it are only getting worse.
The U.S. now ranks LAST out of 19 countries for unnecessary deaths – deaths that could have been avoided through timely and effective medical care.
We actually fell from 15th to 19th, despite the vastly increased use of a wide variety of “wonder drugs” and vaccines. Imagine that. Now, can you imagine how many diseases and deaths could actually be prevented if we focused on promoting healthy lifestyles and reduced consumption of toxic drugs and unnecessary medical procedures?
Grim Statistics of a Country Beholden to Big Pharma
Some of the most frustrating statistics gleaned from these two reports are those relating to preventable mortality, preventable diseases, and lack of drug safety.
Preventable mortality: Whereas other nations improved their rate of preventable deaths by an average of 16 percent, the U.S. improved its rate by a mere 4 percent, which is why we dropped from 15th to dead last.
I can’t help but think back to Michael Moore’s controversial documentary SICKO, in which a European physician describes how he gets financial incentives for teaching his patients preventive measures that reduce his patient load!
Chronic Debilitating Disease: More than one of every six American working-age adults (18 percent) were unable to work or carry out everyday activities because of health problems in 2006—up from 15 percent in 2004.
Again, this statistic shows that coventional physicians are not getting any better at prescribing preventive measures or effective treatments of chronic disease. They’re getting worse. But pharmaceutical sales have increased dramatically…
Safety risks: How dangerous is conventional medicine? One-third of adults with health problems reported mistakes in their care in 2007, and rates of visits to physicians or emergency departments for adverse drug effects increased by one-third between 2001 and 2004.
High Time to Identify the Driving Force Behind U.S. Abysmal Health Statistics
Please understand that the drug companies and food industries are THE primary forces behind most of the terrible health statistics of the U.S. This is not an accident at all, or some terrible oversight.
This is by design.
If you haven’t been reading this newsletter that statement may come as a surprise, but from my perspective this is the unfortunate truth.
The drug industry has been able to manipulate and control the U.S. Congress to pass just about any and every law they need to increase their profits.. Once you understand how they control the government, you realize how they are diverting hundreds of billions of dollars for their hyperinflated drug prices. This goes into their own coffers; for their own good -- NOT for the good of the public.
It is this diversion of funding that is the primary reason why American health is so poor. If these funds were spent wisely and not stolen for products that don’t work and that aren’t safe, there is no doubt in my mind the United States would lead the world in health stats.
This year the U.S. will spend $2.5 trillion dollars on health care, but by 2017, health care spending is projected to exceed $4 TRILLION. This is largely due to the costs of drugs and surgery and a reliance on a medical system that treats only symptoms and never the cause of disease.
Now, I would not mind one bit if spending two and half trillion dollars provided major benefits, but as this study shows, by nearly every available index, this large multitrillion dollar investment is a miserable failure.
Maybe Americans just need to learn to appreciate thrift, and realize that some of the best ways to improve your health are very inexpensive. Some are even free.
How To Survive in a Diseased Health Paradigm
Folks, you CAN Take Control of Your Health. You don't have to stand for this nonsense anymore, ever. Learn what you need to stop being deceived by drug company lies and deceptions. Tell your family, friends and neighbors, and be a beacon of light.
I am confident that with tools like the Internet, the days are numbered for the drug companies, and collectively we will stop this unwise and foolish expenditure of resources. It is a massive David vs. Goliath battle, but there is no doubt in my mind that the victory will be ours.
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More Than 100,000 People Die EVERY Year in the U.S. Because of Hospital Acquired Infections
Posted By Dr. Mercola
December 07 2006
A new study proves false the conventional assumption that hospitals make more money on patients who fall ill with hospital-acquired infections. As it turns out, the higher payments do not cover the additional costs.
They study showed an average $26,839 loss for each patient who came down with "central-line-associated" bloodstream infection. A central line is a catheter placed into a vein to provide medication.
Hospital-acquired infections affect roughly 2 million patients each year, and approximately 100,000 die from them.
Recent studies have also shown that such infections are not a normal side-effect of caring for the seriously ill, but are generally caused by poor medical care.
Dr. Mercola's Comments:
Most people, including most health care professionals, simply do not understand that hospitals comprise nearly ONE-THIRD of the $2.2 trillion the United States spends for "health care." This is TRIPLE what we surrender to drug companies.
It would not be so bad if we actually recieved major benefits for this investment, but, as this article illustrates, this frequently is not the case.
Additionally, you may not realize that only 16 states have laws on the books requiring hospitals to report the number of infections they encounter, and only one (Pennsylvania) has issued reports listing cases at individual hospitals. And that could be crucial information, given how important it is to be cautious about the quality of the hospital you choose.
Frankly, going into the hospital should always be viewed as the option of last resort, when you have exhausted all others. Not only do you risk developing a life-threatening infection, but they all-too-frequently are giving you the wrong solution for your problem. Without question surgery can be a life-saving intervention, especially for acute trauma, but more frequently it is an unwise and poor solution that will cause far more problems than it solves.
Dr. Christopher Gussa from Benson, Arizona weighs in on the issue with some more alarming statistics:
"... I have personally known three people that have died of hospital pneumonia. One was a lung cancer patient of mine whose tumors had begun shrinking! However with his "last" chemo treatment he suddenly developed 'Hospital Pneumonia' and died in a week! ...
"The estimated total number of iatrogenic deaths -- that is, deaths induced inadvertently by a physician or surgeon or by medical treatment or diagnostic procedures -- in the U.S. annually is 783,936. It is evident that the American medical system is itself the leading cause of death and injury in the U.S.! By comparison, approximately 699,697 Americans died of heart problems in 2001, while 553,251 died of cancer.
"In April the Journal of American Medicine itself reported that 'properly prescribed' legal drugs killed 106,000 Americans each year, due to toxic reactions. That's more that twenty times the number of Americans killed by illegal drugs, estimated at 5,212. Will politicians declare a War on the Pharmaceutical Drug Pushers? Of course not!
So why are we spending $17 billion on the War on Drugs and not including the biggest Drug Pushers and killers of all? -- The pharmaceutical companies!"
Other comments on this article, and more, can be seen at Vital Votes. You can also add your own thoughts on this topic and vote on comments already there by first registering at Vital Votes.
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Drug-Induced Disorders
Dr. Mercola
September 30, 2003
The following mainstream article of course completely overlooks a significant reason for drug use dangers as per below:
"Manufacturers of "ethical" drugs, in contrast, are permitted to promote those drugs' benefits, and they spend hundreds of millions of dollars every year doing so--both through multicolor, multi-page ads in medical journals and to physicians through "detail people". More and more, they promote their drugs directly to consumers through television and print media. All this despite the fact that their drugs, even when used according to label directions in hospitals, kill hundreds of thousands every year -- in large part because many of them were fraudulently tested."
Campaign Against Fraudulent Medical Research. The Pharmaceutical Drug
Racket. PO Box 234, Lawson, NSW 2783, Australia.
Chris Gupta
Drug-Induced Disorders
EILEEN G. HOLLAND, PHARM.D., and FRANK V. DEGRUY, M.D.
University of South Alabama College of Medicine, Mobile, Alabama
Recent estimates suggest that each year more than 1 million patients are injured while in the hospital and approximately 180,000 die because of these injuries. Furthermore, drug-related morbidity and mortality are common and are estimated to cost more than $136 billion a year. The most common type of drug-induced disorder is dose-dependent and predictable. Many adverse drug events occur as a result of drug-drug, drug-disease or drug-food interactions and, therefore, are preventable. Clinicians' awareness of the agents that commonly cause drug-induced disorders and recognition of compromised organ function can significantly decrease the likelihood that an adverse event will occur. Patient assessment should include a thorough medication history, including an analysis of all prescribed and over-the-counter medications, vitamins, herbs and "health-food" products to identify drug-induced problems and potentially reversible conditions. An increased awareness among clinicians of drug-induced disorders should maximize their recognition and minimize their incidence.
Drug-induced disorders, in the form of adverse drug events or drug interactions, occur daily in all health care environments. Unfortunately, significant morbidity and mortality are often the consequence of these reactions. Several studies have reported that an average of 10 percent of all hospital admissions may be attributable to drug-induced disorders; this percentage may be a significant underestimate.1 Furthermore, an evaluation of a large sample of 30,195 randomly selected hospital records revealed that 1,133 patients (3.7 percent) experienced a disabling injury caused by medical treatment while hospitalized.
2 Other studies report that hospitalized patients have a 1.5 to 43.5 percent chance of having a drug-induced disorder.1 Using the conservative figure, that 4 percent of hospitalized patients have an adverse event due to medical treatment, and extrapolating to the United States, each year over 1 million patients are injured while in the hospital, and approximately 180,000 die as a result of these injuries.3
In the ambulatory care environment, the incidence of drug-induced disorders not causing hospitalization or death is less well known because different, less effective methods are used to collect data. Reported rates have ranged from 2.6 to 50.6 percent, depending on the source of the data.4 The lower rates generally reflect data collected from physicians, and the higher rates come from patient surveys.
Drug-related morbidity and mortality are estimated to cost more than $136 billion a year in the United States.5 A recent study6 of hospitalized patients demonstrated that adverse drug events extended the hospital stay by nearly two days and increased the cost of hospitalization by about $2,000. Furthermore, patients experiencing an adverse drug event had an increased risk of death that was nearly two-fold greater.
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Drugs and Doctors May be the Leading Cause of Death in U.S.
Posted By Dr. Mercola
January 15 2003
At one time, the main title of my Web site read:
Doctors are the Third leading Cause of Death
Many of you reading this have read or seen this in many places other than my Web site. This article, available on my home page, was widely circulated on the Internet and was one of the reasons why my Web site was initially popular. What you may not realize is that I am the one who made this analysis and popularized it. The original study was published by Dr. Starfield, a full professor of public health at the most prestigious hospital in the United States, Johns Hopkins. Her study never had the headline in it, but instead listed the published research documenting the various causes of deaths that doctors contributed to. I simply added them all up and compared them to cardiovascular diseases and cancer and came up with the above headline, which was widely circulated on the Internet.
Interestingly, when I contacted Dr. Starfield by e-mail she disagreed with the headline I had come up with. She did not feel that doctors were the third leading cause of death, but thought they were the number one cause of death because of their failure to inform their patients about the truth of health. Now this might be a bit too harsh as even if people understand health truth they have freedom of choice and can choose to use sugar, soda and drugs (legal and illegal) to compromise their health and longevity.
However, JAMA actually published a study a year earlier that could support that doctors may be the leading cause of death in the United States.
This finding is more of a speculation though, so below I have provided some other studies to support this assertion.
In 1994, an estimated 2,216,000 (1,721,000 to 2,711,000) hospitalized patients had serious adverse drug reactions (ADRs) and 106,000 (76,000 to 137,000) had fatal ADRs, making these reactions between the fourth and sixth leading cause of death.
Fatal ADRs accounted for 0.32 percent (95 percent confidence interval (CI), 0.23 percent to 0.41 percent) of hospitalized patients.
JAMA April 15, 1998;279(15):1200-5
BMC Nephrol. December 22, 2003
Medication-related problems (MRP) continue to occur at a high rate in ambulatory hemodialysis (HD) patients.
Medication-dosing problems (33.5 percent), adverse drug reactions (20.7 percent), and an indication that was not currently being treated (13.5 percent) were the most common MRP.
5,373 medication orders were reviewed and a MRP was identified every 15.2 medication exposures.
Nurs Times. December 9-15, 2003;99(49):24-5.
In 2002, 16,176 adverse drug reaction reports were received, of which 67 percent related to reactions categorized as 'serious.'
Pharm World Sci. December, 2003;25(6):264-8.
Medication administration errors (MAEs) were observed in two departments of a hospital for 20 days.
The medication administration error rate was 14.9 percent. Dose errors were the most frequent (41 percent) errors, followed by wrong time (26 percent) and wrong rate errors. Ten percent of errors were estimated as potentially life-threatening, 26 percent potentially significant and 64 percent potentially minor.
Serious and Fatal Drug Reactions in US Hospitals
Drug-related morbidity and mortality have been estimated to cost more that $136 billion a year in United States. These estimates are higher than the total cost of cardiovascular care or diabetes care in the United States. A major component of these costs is adverse drug reactions (ADE).
Am J Med August 1, 2000;109(2):122-30
About 0.05 percent of all hospital admissions were certainly or probably drug-related.
Incidence figures based on death certificates only may seriously underestimate the true incidence of fatal adverse drug reactions.
Eur J Clin Pharmacol October, 2002;58(7):479-82
In one study of 200 patients, ADRs may have contributed to the deaths of two (one percent) patients.
J Clin Pharm Ther October, 2000;25(5):355-61
In a survey of over 28,000 patients, ADRs were considered to be the cause of 3.4 percent of hospital admissions. Of these, 187 ADRs were coded as severe. Gastrointestinal complaints (19 percent) represented the most common events, followed by metabolic and hemorrhagic complications (nine percent). The drugs most frequently responsible for these ADRs were diuretics, calcium channel blockers, nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs and digoxin.
J Am Geriatr Soc December, 2002;50(12):1962-8
Dr. Mercola's Comments:
As health reporter Nick Regush said last year:
"There is no way to be nice about this. There is no point in raising false hopes. There is no treatment or vaccine in sight. There is no miracle breakthrough on the horizon.
Medicine, as we know it, is dying. It's entering a terminal phase.
What began as an acute illness reached the chronic stage about a decade ago and progression toward death has been remarkably swift and well beyond anything one could have predicted.
The disease is caused by conflict of interest, tainted research, greed for big bucks, pretentious doctors and scientists, lying, cheating, invasion by the morally bankrupt marketing automatons of the drug industry, derelict politicians and federal and state regulators - all seasoned with huge doses of self-importance and foul odor."
Currently, the United States spends about 1.5 trillion dollars for healthcare, and the projections are that it will double in less than 10 years.
The sad tragedy is that we are spending all of this money on disease management focused on drugs and surgery, and our return on this investment is profoundly poor. More and more people do not have the energy they need to get through the day while millions of others are suffering with painful crippling diseases because they have violated basic health principles.
Often, negative health and lifestyle choices are made because of a lack of knowledge, and it's my passion to increase the public's awareness of the health tragedies facing the nation. I will give you, the consumer, the tools to become a major force for good health and to alleviate disease and suffering.
At Mercola.com, we have been steadily working to introduce innovative software that will accelerate this process, but finishing the manuscript of my book pushed the project back a bit. The beta version will be released shortly and I hope to have the full version out very soon.
The software will help all of us to transform the system together.
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Shame: A Major Reason Why Most Medical Doctors Don’t Change Their Views
Posted By Dr. Mercola
March 30 2002
By Frank Davidoff
In the 1960s the results of a large randomized controlled study by the University Group Diabetes Program showed that tolbutamide, virtually the only blood sugar lowering agent available at the time in pill form, was associated with a significant increase in mortality in patients who developed myocardial infarction.
The obvious response from the medical profession should have been gratitude: here was an important way to improve the safety of clinical practice. But in fact the response was doubt, outrage, even legal proceedings against the investigators; the controversy went on for years.
Why?
An important clue surfaced at the annual meeting of the American Diabetes Association soon after the study was published. During the discussion a practitioner stood up and said he simply could not, and would not, accept the findings, because admitting to his patients that he had been using an unsafe treatment would shame him in their eyes. Other examples of such reactions to improvement efforts are not hard to find.
Indeed, it is arguable that shame is the universal dark side of improvement.
After all, improvement means that, however good your performance has been, it is not as good as it could be. As such, the experience of shame helps to explain why improvement, which ought to be a "no brainer", is generally such a slow and difficult process.
What is it about shame that makes it so hard to deal with? Along with embarrassment and guilt, shame is one of the emotions that motivate moral behavior. Current thinking suggests that shame is so devastating because it goes right to the core of a person's identity, making them feel exposed, inferior, degraded; it leads to avoidance, to silence.
The enormous power of shame is apparent in the adoption of shaming by many human rights organizations as their principal lever for social change; on the flip side lies the obvious social corrosiveness of "shameless" behavior.
Despite its potential importance in medical life, shame has received little attention in the medical literature: a search on the term shame in Medline in November 2001 yielded only 947 references out of the millions indexed. In a sense, shame is the "elephant in the room": something so big and disturbing that we don't even see it, despite the fact that we keep bumping into it.
An important exception to this blindness to medical shame is a paper published in 1987 by the psychiatrist Aaron Lazare which reminded us that patients commonly see their diseases as defects, inadequacies, or shortcomings, and that visits to doctors' surgeries and hospitals involve potentially humiliating physical and psychological exposure.
Patients respond by avoiding the healthcare system, withholding information, complaining, and suing. Doctors too can feel shamed in medical encounters, which Lazare suggests contributes to dissatisfaction with clinical practice.
Indeed, much of the extreme distress of doctors who are sued for malpractice appears to be attributable to the shame rather than to the financial losses. Also, who can doubt that a major concern underlying the controversy currently raging over mandatory reporting of medical errors is the fear of being shamed?
Doctors may, in fact, be particularly vulnerable to shame, since they are self-selected for perfectionism when they choose to enter the profession.
Moreover, the use of shaming as punishment for shortcomings and "moral errors" committed by medical students and trainees such as lack of sufficient dedication, hard work, and a proper reverence for role obligations probably contributes further to the extreme sensitivity of doctors to shaming.
What are the lessons here for those working to improve the quality and safety of medical care?
Firstly, we should recognize that shame is a powerful force in slowing or preventing improvement and that unless it is confronted and dealt with progress in improvement will be slow. Secondly, we should also recognize that shame is a fundamental human emotion and not about to go away. Once these ideas are understood, the work of mitigating and managing shame can flourish.
This work has, of course, been under way for some time. The move away from "cutting off the tail of the performance curve" that is, getting rid of bad apples towards "shifting the whole curve" as the basic strategy in quality improvement and the recognition that medical error results as much from malfunctioning systems as from incompetent practitioners are important developments in this regard.
They have helped to minimize challenges to the integrity of healthcare workers and support the transformation of medicine from a culture of blame to a culture of safety.
But quality improvement has another powerful tool for managing shame. Bringing issues of quality and safety out of the shadows can, by itself, remove some of the sting associated with improvement. After all, how shameful can these issues be if they are being widely shared and openly discussed?
Here is where reports by public bodies and journals like Quality and Safety in Health Care come in. More specifically, such a journal supports three major elements autonomy, mastery, and connectedness that motivate people to learn and improve, bolstering their competence and their sense of self worth, and thus serving as antidotes to shame.
Dr. Mercola's Comments:
I believe this is a central issue to the transformation of the medical paradigm.
It never occurred to me that shame could be a strongly motivating influence preventing many physicians from changing their previous practice habits.
Shifting them would imply that they were wrong in the past and that is something that most physicians seem to have a great deal of problems with and the shaming seems central to the cause.
Fortunately, EFT would be a wonderful tool to heal this wound. The practical challenge, of course, will be to arrange for the physicians to receive this treatment so they can progress forward with truthful information that will really serve their patients well.
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Doctors Are The Third Leading Cause of Death in the US, Killing 225,000 People Every Year
Posted By Dr. Mercola
July 30 2000
This 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 medical paradigm.
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:
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. Used especially of a complication of treatment.
Dr. Starfield offers several warnings in interpreting these numbers:
First, most of the data are derived from studies in hospitalized patients.
Second, these estimates are for deaths only and do not include negative effects that are associated with disability or discomfort.
Third, the estimates of death due to error are lower than those in the IOM report.
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:
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.
This might be tolerated if it resulted in better health, but does it? Of 13 countries in a recent comparison, 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 postneonatal mortality
13th for years of potential life lost (excluding external causes)
11th for life expectancy at 1 year for females, 12th for males
10th for life expectancy at 15 years for females, 12th for males
10th for life expectancy at 40 years for females, 9th for males
7th for life expectancy at 65 years for females, 7th for males
3rd for life expectancy at 80 years for females, 3rd for males
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 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.
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. 17
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.
Dr. Mercola's Comments:
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 are basic.
Effective interventions for the underlying emotional and spiritual wounding behind most chronic illness are also important clues to maximizing health and reducing disease.
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Why Doctors Are 9,000 Times More Likely to Accidentally Kill You Than Gun Owners
Posted By Dr. Mercola
May 14 2000
http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2000/05/14/doctor-accidents.aspx
A widely publicized report saying that as many as 98,000 people die each year in the United States from medical errors is conservative, and the number is probably much larger than that. The estimate by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) is low because it looked only at deaths of patients at hospitals. The Institute is a private, nonprofit organization that provides health policy advice under a congressional charter to the National Academy of Sciences.
Janet M. Corrigan is the IOM's director of health care services. The Institute is a private, nonprofit organization that provides health policy advice under a congressional charter to the National Academy of Sciences. She told reporters at a Capitol Hill briefing May 8 that the study did not look at medical-error deaths at nursing homes, emergency rooms or in doctors' offices. The mortality estimates are low also because most of the information was based on medical record reviews. Medical errors are a problem that has been hidden from the public for far to long.
Dr. Mercola's Comments:
Even worse than the original article reported, and the original study was bad enough.
Here are some other numbers to ponder:
Number of physicians in the US = 700,000
Accidental deaths caused by physicians per year = 120,000
Accidental deaths per physician = 0.171
Number of gun owners in the US = 80,000,000
Number of accidental gun deaths per year (all age groups) = 1,500
Accidental deaths per gun owner = 0.0000188
Therefore, doctors are approximately 9,000 times more dangerous than gun owners.
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