Medical errors and mistakes kill more than 250,000 people each year

Volume 6    |    Issue 37

Conventional medicine has gotten too big for its britches. It’s so big that it can’t keep track of itself. The result is mistakes – lots of mistakes. Deadly mistakes! In fact, conventional medicine is now the third leading cause of death in the U.S.

This isn’t my opinion. It’s the evaluation of researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine – one of the most well-respected medical institutions in the country. According to their study, “medical errors should rank as the third leading cause of death in the United States.” What really caught my eye in this report is that these mistakes, errors, and lapses don’t get reported. So if conventional medicine kills you, your death certificate will say you died from the disease.

That was the case with Kathy. She had breast cancer. She died from the aggressive chemotherapy her oncologist gave her. It was too aggressive and she died. The death certificate, however, didn’t say the chemo killed her. It said she died of breast cancer.

This study showed that the shortcomings in tracking of vital statistics hinder research. And it has kept the problem out of the public eye.

The lead author in the study, Johns Hopkins surgeon Dr. Martin Makary, and his colleagues call for changes in death certificates. They want the certificate to better tabulate fatal lapses in care. But they didn’t just let the study do their talking for them. They took it a step further and wrote an open letter to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The letter urges them to “immediately add medical errors to its annual list reporting the top causes of death.”

The reason for their urgency is clear. Based on their analysis, these researchers estimate that more than 250,000 Americans die each year from medical errors. That puts it on the rankings just behind heart disease and cancer. These two diseases take about 600,000 lives per year. Respiratory disease comes in fourth with about 150,000 deaths.

However, their estimate might be very low. That’s because no one really knows how many deaths conventional medicine causes each year. That’s in large part due to the CDC’s inadequate and dishonest coding system. Their system doesn’t capture things like communication breakdowns, diagnostic errors, prescription mistakes, and poor judgment. All of these things cost lives.

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People make mistakes. It’s a reality of life. But this isn’t just a simple oversight. This lack of reporting causes the system to get even worse. That’s because, as Dr. Makary says, it “informs all our national health priorities and our research grants.” In other words, without proper reporting, the medical system doesn’t police itself well, doesn’t take steps to make changes, and focuses its resources on the wrong problems.

In other words, the system is only going to get worse unless things change quickly.

What outrages me is that conventional medicine is always so quick to point out problems in the supplement industry, but it won’t even be honest about its own problems. Most years, dietary supplements don’t cause any deaths at all. When they do, it’s almost always due to an allergy, a poor-quality weight loss supplement, a poor-quality sexual enhancement supplement, or abuse. For instance, between 2004 and 2013, 839 patients suffered serious liver injuries (not death, just injury) from pills. Nearly 85% (709) of those injuries came from medicines (excluding acetaminophen). Bodybuilding herbals and supplements caused another 5% (45). And weight loss and sexual enhancement herbals and supplements caused 10%. And yet, the media went crazy over the “unregulated” supplements and how much damage they caused. They barely even discussed the “regulated” medications that caused 85% of the damage.

When you buy supplements from a reputable supplement company, adverse events are almost non-existent. What’s more, a quality will give you your money back if you’re not completely satisfied. Try to get a drug company or a doctor to do that! The only place I’ve heard of that is in Italy, where a few cancer-drug companies are starting to offer guarantees. It doesn’t happen in the U.S. And yet, conventional medicine and the media have the audacity to attack supplements when they consider 250,000+ deaths a year from their treatments to be a price of doing business. It’s utter hypocrisy! Conventional medicine needs to pull the huge tree out of its own eye before it begins to pull the tiny sliver out of the supplement industry’s eye. Nutrients are safe and have years of proof to back that up.

Conventional medicine kills and its afraid to let you know just how deadly it is. But if we want to improve our system, we have to know the details. It’s the only way we can save lives.

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About Steve Kroening, ND


For over 25 years, Editor-In-Chief Steve Kroening has worked hand-in-hand with some of the nation's top doctors, including Drs. Frank Shallenberger, Janet Zand, Nan Kathryn Fuchs, William Campbell Douglass, and best-selling author James Balch. Steve is the author of the book Practical Guide to Home Remedies. As a health journalist, Steve's articles have appeared in countless magazines, blogs, and websites.

Steve researches breakthrough cures and treatments you won't hear about from mainstream medicine or even other "alternative" writers. He writes in a friendly, easy-to-read style that always gives you the power to guide your own health choices and do more research on your own.