Do Americans Deserve Healthcare?
2018-01-12 02:07:01 UTC
Failed, Third World US Health Care System Kills Almost 1
Million Americans A Year.
Why not just save money by burying them in mass graves?
Christian Scientists resort to faith healing and die even sooner. God
must hate them.
More proof that for-profit health care is an expensive, deadly
failure. Even wealthy right wingers go to countries like
Canada, India and Costa Rica for socialist health care because
they're afraid of becomming a statistic in one of the USA's
America was rudely awakened to a new kind of danger on
September 11, 2001: Terrorism. The attacks that day left 2,996
people dead, including the passengers on the four commercial
airliners that were used as weapons. Many feel it was the most
tragic day in U.S. history.
Four commercial jets crashed that day. But what if six jumbo
jets crashed every day in the United States, claiming the lives
of 783,936 people every year? That would certainly qualify as a
massive tragedy, wouldn't it?
Well, forget "what if." The tragedy is happening right now.
Over 750,000 people actually do die in the United States every
year, although not from plane crashes. They die from something
far more common and rarely perceived by the public as
dangerous: modern medicine.
According to the groundbreaking 2003 medical report Death by
Medicine, by Drs. Gary Null, Carolyn Dean, Martin Feldman,
Debora Rasio and Dorothy Smith, 783,936 people in the United
States die every year from conventional medicine mistakes.
That's the equivalent of six jumbo jet crashes a day for an
entire year. But where is the media attention for this tragedy?
Where is the government support for stopping these medical
mistakes before they happen?
After 9/11, the White House gave rise to the Department of
Homeland Security, designed to prevent terrorist attacks on
U.S. soil. Since its inception, billions of dollars have been
poured into it. The 2006 budget allots $34.2 billion to the
DHS, a number that has come down slightly from the $37.7
billion budget of 2003.
According to the study led by Null, which involved a
painstaking review of thousands of medical records, the United
States spends $282 billion annually on deaths due to medical
mistakes, or iatrogenic deaths. And that's a conservative
estimate; only a fraction of medical errors are reported,
according to the study. Actual medical mistakes are likely to
be 20 times higher than the reported number because doctors
fear retaliation for those mistakes. The American public heads
to the doctor's office or the hospital time and again,
oblivious of the alarming danger they're heading into. The
public knows that medical errors occur, but they assume that
errors are unusual, isolated events. Unfortunately, by
accepting conventional medicine, patients voluntarily continue
to walk into the leading cause of death in America.
According to a 1995 U.S. iatrogenic report, "Over a million
patients are injured in U.S. hospitals each year, and
approximately 280,000 die annually as a result of these
injuries. Therefore, the iatrogenic death rate dwarfs the
annual automobile accident mortality rate of 45,000 and
accounts for more deaths than all other accidents combined."
This report was issued 10 years ago, when America had 34
million fewer citizens and drug company scandals like the Vioxx
recall were yet to occur. Today, health care comprises 15.5
percent of the United States' gross national product, with
spending reaching $1.4 trillion in 2004.
Since Americans spend so much money on health care, they should
be getting a high quality of care, right? Unfortunately, that's
not the case. Of the 783,936 annual deaths due to conventional
medical mistakes, about 106,000 are from prescription drugs,
according to Death by Medicine. That also is a conservative
number. Some experts estimate it should be more like 200,000
because of underreported cases of adverse drug reactions.
Americans today are used to fixing problems the quick way
even when it comes to their health. Thus, they rely heavily on
prescription drugs to fix their diseases. For every conceivable
ailment real or not chances are there's a pricey
prescription drug to "treat" it. Chances are even better that
their drug of choice comes chock full of side effects.
The problem is, prescription drugs don't treat diseases; they
merely cover the symptoms. U.S. physicians provide allopathic
health care that is, they care for disease, not health. So,
the over-prescription of drugs and medications is designed to
treat disease instead of preventing it. And because there are
so many drugs available, unforeseen adverse drug reactions are
all too common, which leads to the highly conservative annual
prescription drug death rate of 106,000. Keep in mind that
these numbers came before the Vioxx scandal, and Cox-2
inhibitor drugs could ultimately end up killing tens of
American medical patients are getting the short end of a rather
raw deal when it comes to prescription drugs. Medicine is a
high-dollar, highly competitive business. But it shouldn't be.
Null's report cites the five most important aspects of health
that modern medicine ignores in favor of the almighty dollar:
Stress, lack of exercise, high calorie intake, highly processed
foods and environmental toxin exposure. All these things are
putting Americans in such poor health that they run to the
doctor for treatment. But instead of doctors treating the
causes of their poor health, such as putting them on a strict
diet and exercise regimen, they stuff them full of prescription
drugs to cover their symptoms. Using this inherently faulty
system of medical treatment, it's no wonder so many Americans
die from prescription drugs. They're not getting better;
they're just popping drugs to make their symptoms temporarily
But not all doctors subscribe to this method of "treatment." In
fact, many doctors are just as angry as the public should be,
charging that scientific medicine is "for sale" to the highest
bidder which, more often than not, end up being
pharmaceutical companies. The pharmaceutical industry is a
multi-trillion dollar business. Companies spend billions on
advertising and promotions for prescription drugs. Who can
remember the last time they watched television and weren't
bombarded with ads for pills treating everything from erectile
dysfunction to sleeplessness? And who has ever been to a
doctor's office or hospital and not seen every pen, notepad and
post-it bearing the logo of some prescription drug?
Medical experts claim that patients' requests for certain drugs
have no effect on the number of prescriptions written for that
drug. Pharmaceutical companies claim their drug ads are
"educational" to the public. The public believes the FDA
reviews all the ads and only allows the safest and most
effective drug ads to reach the public. It's a clever system:
Pharmaceutical companies influence the public to ask for
prescription drugs, the public asks their physicians to
prescribe them certain drugs, and doctors acquiesce to their
patients' requests. Everyone's happy, right? Not quite, since
the prescription drug death toll continues to rise.
The public seems to genuinely believe that drugs advertised on
TV are safe, in spite of the plethora of side effects listed by
the commercial's narrator, ranging from diarrhea to death.
Patients feel justified in asking their physicians to prescribe
them a particular drug they've seen on TV, since it surely must
be safe or it wouldn't have been advertised. Remember all those
TV ads heralding the wonders of Vioxx? One might wonder how
many lives could have been spared if patients didn't see the ad
on TV and request a prescription from their doctors.
But advertising isn't the only tool the pharmaceutical industry
uses to influence medicine. Null's study cites an ABC report
that said pharmaceutical companies spend over $2 billion
sending doctors to more than 314,000 events every year. While
doctors are riding the dollar of pharmaceutical companies,
enjoying all the many perks of these "events," how likely are
they to question the validity of drug companies or their
Admittedly, not all doctors reside in the pockets of the
pharmaceutical companies. Some are downright angry at the
situation, and angry on behalf of an unaware public. Major
conflicts of interest exist between the American public, the
medical community and the pharmaceutical industry. And although
the public suffers the most from this conflict, it is the least
informed. The public gets the short end of the stick and they
don't even know it. That is why the pharmaceutical industry
remains a multi- trillion dollar business.
Prescription drugs are only a part of the U.S. healthcare
system's miserable failings. In fact, outpatient deaths,
bedsore deaths and malnutrition deaths each account for higher
death rates than adverse drug reactions. The problems run deep
and cannot be remedied without drastic, widespread change in
the system's money and ethics.
The first issue money is the main reason the medical
industry cannot seem to change. Prescribing more drugs and
recommending more surgeries means more profits. Getting more
drugs approved by the FDA, regardless of their safety, means
more money for the pharmaceutical industry. As the healthcare
system stands today, physicians and drug companies can't seem
to pass up earning loads of money, even if a few hundred
thousand people lose their lives in the process. Even in
drastic cases of deadly drugs, everyone involved has a
scapegoat: Drug companies can blame the FDA for approving their
product and the doctors for over-prescribing it, and doctors
can blame the patients for wanting it and not properly weighing
What ultimately arises is a question of ethics. In layman's
terms, ethics are the rules or moral guidelines that govern the
conduct of people or professions. Some ethics are ingrained
from childhood, but some are specifically set forth. For
example, nearly all medical schools have their new doctors take
a modern form of the Hippocratic Oath. While few versions are
identical, none include setting aside proper medical care in
favor of money-making practices.
On the research side of the issue, "Death by Medicine" cites an
ABC report that says clinical trials funded by pharmaceutical
companies show a 90 percent chance that a drug will be
perceived as effective, whereas clinical trials not funded by
drug companies show only a 50 percent chance that a drug will
be perceived as effective. "It appears that money cant buy you
love, but it can buy you any 'scientific' result you want,"
writes Null and his team of researchers.
The government spends upwards of $30 billion a year on homeland
security. Such spending seems important. Since 2001, 2,996
people in the United States have died from terrorism all as a
result of the 9/11 attacks. In that same period of time,
490,000 people have died from prescription drugs, not counting
the Vioxx scandal. That means that prescription drugs in this
country are at least 16,400 percent deadlier than terrorism.
Again, those are the conservative numbers. A more realistic
number, which would include deaths from over-the-counter drugs,
makes drug consumption 32,000 percent deadlier than terrorism.
But the scope of "Death by Medicine" is even wider.
Conventional medicine, including unnecessary surgeries,
bedsores and medical errors, is 104,700 percent deadlier than
terrorism. Yet, our government's attention and money is not put
into reforming health care.
Couldn't a little chunk of the homeland security money be
better spent on overhauling the corrupt U.S. healthcare system,
the leading cause of death in America? Couldn't we forfeit the
color-coded threat system in favor of stricter guidelines on
medical research and prescription drugs? No one is attempting
to say that terrorism in the world is not a problem, especially
for a high-profile country like the United States. No one is
saying that the people who died on 9/11 didn't matter or
weren't horribly wronged by the terrorists that day. But there
are more dangerous things in the United States being falsely
represented as safe and healthy, when, in reality, they are
deadly. The corruption in the pharmaceutical industry and in
America's healthcare system poses a far greater threat to the
health, safety and welfare of Americans today than terrorism.