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 »  Home  »  Health News Index  »  Pharmaceutical Industry News  »  Drugs & Doctors May be Leading Cause of Death
Drugs & Doctors May be Leading Cause of Death
by Joseph Mercola, D.O. | Published  8/21/2004 | Pharmaceutical Industry News | Rating:
Joseph Mercola, D.O.

Dr. Mercola is a licensed Osteopathic physician and board-certified in family medicine. He served as the chairman of the family medicine department at St. Alexius Medical Center for five years and has been trained in both traditional and natural medicine. Dr. Mercola has been practicing natural medicine actively since 1990 and is the publisher of www.mercola.com, the most visited health site on the internet. 

View all articles by Joseph Mercola, D.O....
Doctors are Leading Cause of Death
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.

April 15, 1998;279(15):1200-5

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.

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.'

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).

  • The numbers of deaths reported in data sets varied 34-fold and were up to several 100-fold less than values based on extrapolations of surveillance programs.

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.

October, 2002;58(7):479-82

  • In one study of 200 patients, ADRs may have contributed to the deaths of two (one percent) patients.

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.

December, 2002;50(12):1962-8


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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Article Series
This article is part 2 of a 2 part series. Other articles in this series are shown below:
  1. Doctors May Be Third Leading Cause of Death
  2. Drugs & Doctors May be Leading Cause of Death

  • Comment #1  (Posted by an unknown user)
    An unbias report, that is GREAT! Thank You
  • Comment #2  (Posted by an unknown user)
    The whole article here is a blessing to many who are in blind to see what is happening in U.S. medicine. Medicine in other countries is far better and with excellent results. One example, La Paz, Bolivia, a small country in South America performs many heart operations and other kinds of operations with a tremendous success and very cheap. I know a gentleman who recently came to live with his daughter who resides here now and had a heart operation five years ago. He told me about his extremely delicate heart operation back in La Paz, the operation was very successful and his heart now is unbelievable well. When this gentleman, as a precautionary means, went to see a couple of cardiologist here in U.S., the doctors were aghast of the perfect and well done heart operation, they could not believe that a small country as is Bolivia have better technology and cheap, very cheap. Another thing that this gentleman noticed that the medicine in this country is not as good is when he came with prostate problems, doctors prescribe him many drugs that gave him side effects. In a recent case when a friends of my son stayed in our house for a week she came with a terrible ovarian pain, I rushed her to the hospital and they kept us for six hours while this poor girl was dying in pain and at the end gave her some drug pill to take that did not work but gave her side effects. I took her to my private doctor and she discovered right away her condition and within a week she was fine other than that this poor 18 year old girl could have died bleeding. I have travel around the world pretty much, years ago I left the country with a mild cold and got worse as I went to my hotel in Luxemburg, the doctor there gave me two small pellets to put under my tongue and told me to repeat the same four times a day. In two days my cols was gone and I felt pretty invigorated. This was unbelievable because here at home my colds last from one to two weeks taking whatever drugs doctors prescribe me. In other trip to Europe I became with a nasty cold, I was chocking with phlegms and feeling miserable, the pharmacist in Italy gave me a powder to mix with water and told me to take three times a day, and gave me some white tablets to keep suck. Believe it or not, my cold was almost gone in two days and the beauty of it was that I have no side effects. In Europe doctors use a lot of alternative ways and avoid giving their patients drug medicine which causes horrible effects. Another time as my family and I went to Barbados and took a boat to the French side called San Martin. For some reason I get so many colds here in our country and unfortunately I left home to go on that trip with a cold and got worse there. I brought with me the cough syrup “Robitussin” and showed to the pharmacist if she has more, she took the robitussin bottle and told me, “You Americans are full of the bad medicine, this is bad for you” and threw away the bottle, then she gave me another syrup and pellets to put under my tongue. I took them and in the afternoon I began to feel unbelievable well. Sixteen years ago I began with bad head-aches, went to the neurologist and found that I had a small calcium deposit tumor in my forehead above my eyes. He suggested an operation but with no guaranty because it was a possibility to leave me with no short term memory and with a huge scar between my right lobe. I was devastated. To make my story short, 17 years ago (it was a miracle) I discovered and learned what was the alternative medicine, never knew before ~ went to a practitioner and he took care of me. In six months after he put me on a strict diet and great vitamins my tumor disappeared and till now I am healthy from diseases.We Americans need to do something big about this medical carnage that it’s happening all over the country in our hospitals and stop doctors to give unnecessary drugs to patients that brings many side effects from which effect they give another drug and so on. This happens in all the retirement homes too, and the food is horrible unhealthy, I saw that with my in laws.Thanks for advertising this.Nancy
  • Comment #3  (Posted by an unknown user)
    Its real. Its funny [!!!]. It needs to be known. Ive been working in healthcare [mental]in UK for many years, sniffed corruption, spoke out and they hit me hard, now hitting back with some truths. this article and others give me courage, hopestrength etc to continue. THANKS
  • Comment #4  (Posted by Patrick W. Parker )
    Truth, spoken honestly,is always excellent. It's a shame more professionals fail to realize this.pwfarm

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