New Forbes Article sheds light on Y2K Numbers of Deaths by Medical Error. . .

Hello fans; friends and fellow Healthcare Warriors;  

Robert J. Szczerba/Forbes Contributor

Robert J. Szczerba/Forbes Contributor

*** A day after I published this blog, Forbes came out with the following new perspectives based on a much ore recent study. Please compare and see how conditions have changed. What do you think? Has enough changed?

My Blog post from November 6, 2015 — A good read before the above, updated info. for some facts, figures and comparisons.

Please see this information about hospital infections as compared to other lethal medical harm, based on a 2000 study done by the conservative, JAMA (Journal of American Medicine). This study is only of AMERICANS. I am not being political (I know it’s voting day). I am being COMPARATIVE using analogies we can all relate to from the news. Cool? Cool.

EVERY YEAR in THE U.S., THERE ARE 106,000 DEATHS by ADVERSE EFFECTS of FDA approved drugs per year as measured by the study in 2000. This number has of course increased year over year.

EVERY YEAR in THE U.S., THERE ARE 783,926 DEATHS caused by the combination of Medical Harm listed in the chart below.

My point(s):

I fear that hospital infection (while certainly VERY TROUBLING) is what I will call “a decoy problem” or a “false dichotomy” being presented to us by the medical and big pharma, based on the rhetoric from physicians at recent conferences I’ve attended regarding “medical error” as a combined number of deaths, not broken down into death by “type of medical error” and of course through my own study. The chart below came from JAMA, Volume 284, Number 4, July 26, 2000 and is authored by Dr. Barbara Starfield, MD, The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Hygiene and Public Health. 

My observations/questions for us all to ponder:

1) Are we focusing on the right discussion?

2) Do we all understand the GRAVITY of the death toll from our willing participation in a broken system that is becoming more so?

3) If we are to follow certain standards with how we are to treat doctors, how do we demand a standard they follow with regards to us? It is not okay for a doctor to yell, talk down to or make (what some would call, and which I have certainly seen with my mom) intimidating demands of us?

4) If a sick person must pay $25 dollars for an unforeseen missed appointment, should I give my doctor any invoice for my hourly rate when he is 1.5 hours late to my appointment?

5) Are we not just bring up problems, but DEMANDING and CREATING solutions?

6) These are ALL huge problems, but should we focus on the bottom third or the top third? Seems like we could certainly address that bedsore issue with existing technology.

Screen Shot 2014-11-04 at 11.07.14 AMThat aforementioned, 12-yr-old study documents the following (If she dies, my mother would fall into categories #3, #4, #5 and #6, so I don’t even know how to account for that. Bring out the statisticians.)  

1) Death by drug side effect = 106k   

2) Bedsores (really, bedsores???) = 115k  

3) Medical Error = 98k

4) Infections = 88k

5) Surgery = 32k

6) Unnecessary Procedures = 37k




TOTAL RISK OF BEING KILLED BY ONE OF THE MEDICAL MEANS ABOVE = 2x or 6,200% HIGHER RISK than your chance of being shot on the streets of some of our most dangerous cities; and some by means of some our most well-known and shameful violence (Sandy Hawk, Columbine, Aurora, Kent State, UT Austin).


-Another perspective, just the DRUG RELATED DEATHS FROM ADVERSE EVENTS (106k) is equivalent to the number of people killed in the Aurora Theatre Shooting in 2012 – except the massacre would have had to happen EVERY HOUR of EVERY DAY for 365 days to equal the number of FDA-approved drug deaths.

-Another good perspective (for me anyway) is that every day for one year, a JUMBO JET airline crash with a full cabin would have to crash every day, again to equal the FDA-approved drug deaths by ADVERSE EFFECT (not even including the 510k process), again this study published in the year 2000.

As Patient Advocates, our goal is not to be at odds with doctors; the goal is to try to work with them to together fill the gaps that exist in the current system. That doesn’t seem to be as welcome as it should be, given the numbers we see year after year of needless injury and death, in my humble opinion.

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