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The Western healthcare death toll

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by Ross Walker

The most common cause of death in our society is cardiovascular disease.

Coming in at a close second and closing in fast is cancer, but not far off these two is Western healthcare.

A recent disturbing report in the British Medical Journal suggests that cardiovascular disease causes 611,000 deaths every year in the United States, cancer leads to 585,000 deaths and medical errors (in hospitals alone) 251,000 deaths.

But when you combine this with the 110,000 deaths from the appropriate prescription of medications (i.e. not an error) yes, I said appropriate, along with a further 23,000 deaths from super bugs contracted in hospitals (which really can’t be seen as a medical error) – the grand total of deaths in the United States from Western healthcare totals 384,000, and this is probably an underestimation because it is really only pertaining to those deaths associated with hospitals.

This information, coupled with the recent concerns about the widespread, inappropriate use of statin drugs, the significant vascular complications of the chronic use of reflux drugs, i.e. increased risk for cardiovascular disease, chronic kidney disease and dementia, not to mention the recent US report that 30% of antibiotic prescriptions were inappropriate along with (at times) the questionable use of a variety of medications for chronic conditions, raises significant concerns how modern medicine is being administered and taken up by patients.

It is reasonable to argue that in many cases where an investigation was performed or a treatment was given for a particular condition that the person may have succumbed to the condition itself.

Regardless, the first line of the Hippocratic Oath does state ‘First, do no harm.’

I believe it is long overdue that independent bodies review many of the current medical practices across the world. I would applaud the “Choosing Wisely” campaign, whose mission statement is to help healthcare community and consumers start an important conversation about eliminating the use of unnecessary and sometimes harmful tests, treatments and procedures.

Let’s hope that this, and other worldwide campaigns, can help change the way both health professionals and the public view the practise of medicine because clearly, at present, it doesn’t seem to be working.

Published: Thursday, June 02, 2016


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