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Medical Mistakes in Hospitals? Here's the Jaw-dropping Truth, Folks

It was 18 years ago when the Institute of Medicine revealed an appalling study they chose to call To Err Is Human. It was indeed a bellwether harbinger for those wise enough to pay attention, because it shattered the silence of the medical community. It revealed the stunning reality that an aspect of American society we so euphemistically call “healthcare” was killing 98,000 people a year.

The knee-jerk reaction was predictable: thousands of physicians denied the possibility. But within a few years and certainly by 2005, no one of any consequence was disputing the ugliness anymore. Simply put, “medicine treatments and protocols” were killing at least 250 Americans every single day of the year.

Curious, wouldn’t you say? Every time experts take a close look at healthcare’s contributions, the facts prove our “treatments” kill at least as many as they save.

Five years after that, Health and Human Services admitted the numbers were far, far worse than the 98,000. Their studies showed that errant care in hospitals alone was killing 180,000 patients in any given year.

Dr. John T. James, a true American Hero

Fast forward 2 years and guess what? The Journal of Patient Safety tells us in its current issue things are a whole ton worse than that. The more accurate number of dead people each year – at least when it comes to those treated poorly in hospitals – lies somewhere between 210,000 and 440,000 patients. We get no joy whatsoever in doing the math for you: those big gleaming church-like hospitals standing proudly on lawns nationwide are killing between 600-1,200 of our friends, enemies and family members – per day.

Here’s a sobering thought: the Viet Nam war took 58,000 American soldiers’ lives. “Healthcare” ends that many lives every 60 days.

We’re guessing you’ve heard of the Centers for Disease Control – the CDC. You know, the people who tell you to fret over a “measles epidemic?” Well, each year the CDC puts out their Top 10 Causes of Death List. Here are their data for the age grouping 45-64:

  1. Heart Disease

  2. Cancer

  3. Unintentional Injury

  4. Respiratory Diseases

  5. Diabetes

  6. Liver Disease

  7. Brain Incidents (strokes)

  8. Suicide

  9. Septicemia (blood poisoning)

  10. Nephritis (kidney inflammation)

So where exactly on this list is a category called “errant health care?” We don’t see one, and neither do you. The fact is the CDC (take a peek at their website. Their motto is, “CDC 24/7. Saving Lives, Protecting People”) is a massive institution top-heavy with doctor-led committees. By all evidence we can see, the last thing they want to inform the public is that – for most of us – the most dangerous place you might ever find yourself, is inside a hospital. So they distract the public by dangling the “flu ghost” each winter, and hope we the people remain too intellectually lazy to see where the REAL spooks are.

But if the category “iatrogenesis” were properly added to the CDC’s Top 10 List, “healthcare” would be #3the third leading cause of death in the U.S.

Yes indeed, medical errors are at least the third-leading cause of death in America, right after heart disease and cancer.

The newest studies were developed by John T. James of Patient Safety America. Mr. James happens to be a toxicologist. In four different studies, which examined records of more than 4,000 patients hospitalized from 2002-2008, researchers found serious adverse events in 20% of cases reviewed and death rates of 1.5% of cases.

By combining the findings and extrapolating across 34,000,000 hospitalizations in 2007, James concluded that preventable errors contribute to the deaths of 210,000 hospital patients annually.

And this number is admittedly low, because the actual number doubles. The trigger tool doesn’t catch errors in which treatment should have been provided but wasn’t, Nor where medical records are missing evidence of harm, because diagnostic errors aren’t captured.

So what is the real number of unnecessary patient deaths? Nobody knows, because healthcare leaders do all in their power to hide their errors deep within the amphigory of statistical data. (notice on the CDC Top 10 List, the little item called ‘septicemia’, for example. How do you think people get blood poisoning? How do you suppose folks get ‘nephritis’?)

So the citizenry is left with educated guesses, which are far, far lower than reality, in part because thousands of doctors simply don’t report treatment mistakes.

“We need to get a sense of the magnitude of this,” John T. James says in his report.

You’ve got that right, John.

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