From: Reprinted by permission by SE, Inc.
Physicians do make mistakes. All doctors make Hippocrates’ promise to “First, do no harm.” However, the medical profession was the third leading cause of death in 2002.[i] The first and second causes of death were cancer and cardiovascular disease. 106,000 people died from the negative effects of pharmaceuticals;[ii] 80,000 people died from infections in hospitals;[iii] 20,000 people died from errors made while in the hospital;[iv] 12,000 died due to unnecessary surgery;[v] 7,000 died due to medication errors in hospitals.[vi] Going to see a doctor can be a dangerous proposition. You are 9000 times more likely to accidentally be killed by a doctor than by a gun.[vii] The alternative is making sure we don’t have to go to the doctor’s office or hospital in the first place.
[i] To Err Is Human: Building a Safer Health System. Kohn L, ed, Corrigan J, ed, Donaldson M, ed. Washington, DC: National Academy Press; 1999.
[iii] Incidence of adverse drug reactions in hospitalized patients: a meta-analysis of prospective studies. Lazarou J, Pomeranz BH, Corey PN. Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) 1998 Apr 15;279(15):1200-5
[v] Unnecessary surgery. Leape LL. Annual Review of Public Health. 1992;13:363-83 Department of Health Policy and Management, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115.
[vi] Increase in US medication-error deaths between 1983 and 1993. Phillips DP, Christenfeld N, Glynn LM. Lancet. 1998 Feb 28;351(9103):643-4.
[vii] Number of physicians in the US = 700,000Accidental deaths caused directly by physicians per year = 120,000Accidental deaths per physician = 0.171
Number of gun owners in the US = 80,000,000Number of accidental gun deaths per year (all age groups) = 1,500Accidental deaths per gun owner = 0.0000188
To Err Is Human: Building a Safer Health System Kohn L, ed, Corrigan J, ed, Donaldson M, ed. Washington, DC: National Academy Press; 1999