Saturday, October 25, 2008

Medical "Houses of Horrors!" Naturally Speaking by Christopher C. Barr

This is the time of year when many pay to enter "haunted houses" to be "scared to death". People expect surprises at these places and are ready for a good scare. These are set up for a brief time annually at this season of the year. It is all for fun.

Meanwhile, many daily enter "houses of horrors" all year round where they (or their loved ones) unwittingly pay later. The price ends up being frightfully high. These permanent places are real life -- or more precisely real death far too often. People not expecting death or ready for it at all find an unexpected end in these places. Even those who survive seldom have fun.

Trick or Threat

The late Ivan Illich opened his book Medical Nemesis in 1976, "The medical establishment has become a major threat to health." He wrote of "iatrogenic disease" -- doctor-created illness -- that it is rampant and growing in modern medicine. He and his book were roundly criticized and largely ignored.

Almost 25 years later the Institute of Medicine (IOM) made headlines with its admission that almost 100,000 deaths annually occur from medical errors in hospitals -- "houses of horrors". The IOM is the voice of modern medicine and its confession was seen as largely conservative. The figures were based on self-reporting that was noted by many medical experts to be much less than half of actual cases.

Other estimates at that time put the number of deaths from medical errors at higher figures. The highest figure then of 300,000 came from consumer advocate Ralph Nader.

Scarier numbers

Only a few years following the IOM study another report noted figures twice as high as the IOM report with almost 200,000 deaths annually due to medical errors in hospitals. This report came from a company within the medical field. It also excluded obstetric admissions, so again, it was certainly a conservative figure.

Scarier still

Another exhaustive review of medical journal articles, after all the others previously noted, was conducted by a group of doctors that detailed medical hospital errors totaling 783,936 deaths annually. Heart disease is generally recognized as the leading cause of death in this nation with less than 700,000 deaths annually. The review titled, 'Death by Medicine' therefore indicates that medical, hospital errors are the number one cause of death in America!

The 'Death by Medicine' report noted that it used the minimal figures from the studies it found and that the annual death figure could easily top 1,000,000 due to medical, hospital errors.

Yet almost 10 years after the IOM admission from admittedly low self-reporting by medical professionals, there is still no outside policing or regulatory protocol set up to address these preventable errors that may now be the number one cause of death in America!

That should be a great big, scary BOO to every American. Countless millions have boohooed their lost loved ones who in reality needn't have died. Modern medicine has ballyhooed these truths for decades. Who will hold them accountable now? Certainly not Barack McCain Obama.

Christopher C. Barr writes Naturally Speaking from Arkansas: The Natural State … naturally! You may write him at P. O. Box 1147, Pocahontas, Arkansas 72455 or by e-mail at

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