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Sunday, December 20, 2009

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Medical Error, the Third Leading Cause of Death, and Climbing

U.S. healthcare is the most expensive in the world and has the worst healthcare outcomes of most developed countries. The data is unassailable and studiously ignored by the media. Most Americans think healthcare in the U.S. is good and that is probably why so many of them are fat, sick, ignorant, and die an early death at the hands of their doctor.

The last time I checked, the nurses in California will not check into a hospital without a buddy nurse who takes time off from work to watch every procedure done in the hospital on their fellow nurse. It is too risky to enter the hospital without an external expert watching your every move.

Dr. Barbara Starfield of John's Hopkins University reported in JAMA in 2000 that every year in the US there are:
12,000 deaths from unnecessary surgeries;
7,000 deaths from medication errors in hospitals;
20,000 deaths from other errors in hospitals;
80,000 deaths from infections acquired in hospitals ;
106,000 deaths from FDA-approved correctly prescribed medicines.
The total of medically-caused deaths in the US every year is 225,000.


"Is the U.S. Healthcare System Really the Best in the World." Barbara Starfield, MD, MPH
JAMA. 2000;284:483-485.

Medical treatment is conservatively the third leading cause of death in the US, behind heart disease and cancer and a recent interview with Dr. Starfield indicates it is just getting worse. Healthcare reform is not about better healthcare. It is about who gets the biggest slice of the huge amount of financial waste in the error prone U.S. healthcare system.

See "An Exclusive Interview with Barbara Starfield."

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