In 2000, a presidential task force labelled medical errors a "national problem of epidemic proportions." Members estimated that the "cost associated with these errors in lost income, disability, and health care costs is as much as $29 billion annually." In the same year the Journal of the American Medical Association carried a study by Dr. Barbara Starfield (John Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health) that put Iatrogenic deaths in America at the astounding number of 225,000!
Dr. Starfield cautioned that as startling as this research was, it only represented hospitalized patients - it did not include deaths in nursing homes, emergency rooms, or in doctor’s offices. It did not include negative effects that are associated with disability or discomfort. And, these estimates of death due to error are lower than those in other published reports. Nevertheless, 225,000 iatrogenic deaths per year constitute the third leading cause of death in the United States, after deaths from cancer and heart disease! The most significant number of these unnecessary deaths, 106,000, were due to the negative effects of properly prescribed drugs, making them the fourth leading cause of death in America.
On a strictly monetary basis, depending on which published study you use, this adds up to $58.5 to $100 billion in extra costs! The late Walter Cronkite, well-known news anchor, painted a dismal picture: “America’s healthcare system is neither healthy, caring, nor a system.” (1990)
No wonder some have also dubbed this 20th century disease "Acquired Iatrogenic Death Syndrome" (AIDS)
Journal of the American Medical Association
|Drug errors in hospitals||7,000|
|Others errors in hospitals||20,000|
|Negative effects of properly prescribed drugs||106,000|
National Patient Safety Foundation Oct. 9, 1997
In 2003 a independent review of government-approved medicine (Death by Medicine - Authors: Gary Null PhD, Carolyn Dean MD ND, Martin Feldman MD, Debora Rasio MD, Dorothy Smith PhD) compared thousands of published, peer-reviewed scientific studies. The numbers generated were higher than those cited in the JAMA article, but the conclusion was the same: there is something dreadfully wrong with American medicine. Too often it does more harm than good. Compelling evidence from this study unveiled astounding statistics on the 783,936 iatrogenic deaths per year that have resulted from conventional medicine at the staggering cost of $282 billion. Depending on which of the above studies one finds more credible, it still adds up to between two and six jumbo jets falling out of the sky each and every day! This phenomena is not limited to the U.S. Similar percentages were seen in Britain, Canada, and Australia.
Annual Physical and Economic Cost of Medical Intervention
|Adverse Drug Reactions||106,000||$12 billion||Lazarou(1) Suh(2)|
|Medical error||98,000||$2 billion||IOM(3)|
|Bedsores||115,000||$55 billion||Xakellis(4) Barezak(5)|
|Infection||88,000||$5 billion||Weinstein(6) MMWR(7)|
|Outpatients||199,000||$77 billion||Starfield(9) Weingart(10)|
|Unnecessary Procedures||37,136||$122 billion||HCUP(11)|