Saturday, September 29, 2012


Iatrogenics - Death by Doctors
Dangers of Prescription Medications

If we value personal freedom and dignity, we should, in confronting the moral dilemmas of biology, genetics, and medicine, insist that the expert's allegiance to the agents and values he serves be made explicit and that the power inherent in his specialized knowledge and skill not be accepted as justification for his exercising specific controls over those lacking such knowledge and skill. ~ Thomas S. Szasz M.D.

Did you know that when a drug representative spends one minute with a doctor, the doctor's prescriptions for that drug increased 16 percent? With three minutes time with a drug rep their prescription rate for that particular drug rises to 52%. This report is from Adriane Fugh-Berman, M.D., who studies industry tactics. Source: Jan/Feb 2008 Vol. 40 AARP Bulletin -

Main Entry: iat·ro·gen·ic
Function: adjective
: induced inadvertently by a physician or surgeon or by medical treatment or diagnostic procedures. - Merriam-Webster's Medical Dictionary -

Table Of Iatrogenic Deaths In The United States
(Deaths induced inadvertently by a physician or surgeon or by medical treatment or diagnostic procedures)

Adverse Drug Reactions 106,000$12 billionLazarou (1) Suh (49)
Medical error98,000 $2 billion IOM (6)
Bedsores115,000$55 billion Xakellis (7) Barczak (8)
Infection88,000$5 billionWeinstein (9) MMWR (10)
Malnutrition 108,800 Nurses Coalition (11)
Outpatients199,000$77 billionStarfield ( 12) Weingart (1, 12)
Unnecessary Procedures37,136 $122 billionHCUP(3, 13)
Surgery-Related 32,000 $9 billionAHRQ(85)
TOTAL783,936$282 billion

We could have an even higher death rate by using Dr. Lucien Leape's 1997 medical and drug error rate of 3 million. (14) Multiplied by the fatality rate of 14 percent (that Leape used in 1994 (16) we arrive at an annual death rate of 420,000 for drug errors and medical errors combined. If we put this number in place of Lazorou's 106,000 drug errors and the Institute of Medicine's (IOM) 98,000 medical errors, we could add another 216,000 deaths making a total of 999,936 deaths annually.

ADR/med error 420,000$200 billion Leape 1997(14)
TOTAL 999,936

Annual Unnecessary Medical Events

Unnecessary Events People Affected Iatrogenic Events
Hospitalization8.9 million(4) 1.78 million(16)
Procedures 7.5 million(3) 1.3 million(40)
TOTAL 16.4 million3.08 million

The enumerating of unnecessary medical events is very important in our analysis. Any medical procedure that is invasive and not necessary must be considered as part of the larger iatrogenic picture. Unfortunately, cause and effect go unmonitored. The figures on unnecessary events represent people ("patients") who are thrust into a dangerous health care system. They are helpless victims. Each one of these 16.4 million lives is being affected in a way that could have a fatal consequence. Simply entering a hospital could result in the following (out of 16. 4 million people):

  • 2.1 percent chance of a serious adverse drug reaction (186,000) (1)
  • 5 percent to 6 percent chance of acquiring a nosocomial [hospital] infection (489,500) (9)
  • 4 percent to 36 percent chance of having an iatrogenic injury in hospital (medical error and adverse drug reactions) (1.78 million) (16)
  • 17 percent chance of a procedure error (1.3 million) (40)

All the statistics above represent a one-year time span. Imagine the numbers over a 10-year period. Working with the most conservative figures from our statistics we project the following 10-year death rates.

Medical Intervention

Projected Ten-Year Death Rates
Condition10-Year Deaths
Adverse Drug Reaction 1.06 million
Medical error 0.98 million
Bedsores 1.15 million
Nosocomial Infection 0.88 million
Malnutrition 1.09 million
Outpatients 1.99 million
Unnecessary Procedures 371,360
Surgery-related 320,000
TOTAL 7,841,360 (7.8 million)

Our projected statistic of 7.8 million iatrogenic deaths is more than all the casualties from wars that America has fought in its entire history.

Our projected figures for unnecessary medical events occurring over a 10-year period are also dramatic.

Unnecessary Intervention

Projected Ten-Year Statistics
Unnecessary Events 10-Year NumberIatrogenic Events
Hospitalization89 million17 million
Procedures 75 million13 million
TOTAL 164 million30 million

These projected figures show that a total of 164 million people, approximately 56 percent of the population of the United States, have been treated unnecessarily by the medical industry—in other words, nearly 50,000 people per day.

Source: Leading Cause of Death

The untimely death of actor Heath Ledger recently in Jan of 2008, and since then many more, are examples of how dangerous prescription medications can be. Sometimes it may not be that one prescription drug is enough of a poison to the human body but when additional chemical drugs are added to the recipe, this can be fatal. As we learn more on the process and procedure by which these prescription drugs are being manufactured, marketed and prescribed to unknowing loved ones, it must raise the question of safety. Remember, Vioxx was also an FDA approved drug that killed over 60,000 of our friends and loved ones right here in the United States.  For more information on the leading cause of death and the largest contributor to the current health care crisis please visit: Leading Cause of Death