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U.S. Ranks Last in Preventable Deaths Due to a Flawed Medical System

Tuesday, January 29, 2008 by: Teri Lee Gruss
Tags: health trends, health news, Natural News

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(NewsTarget) The Commonwealth Fund, a non-profit foundation that funds research related to improving the U.S. healthcare system, recently reported that 75,000 to 101,000 deaths could have been prevented in the U.S. in 2002. The conclusion is based on the study Measuring the Health of Nations: Updating an Earlier Analysis conducted by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

The U.S. currently ranks at the bottom of 19 industrialized countries based on data measured between 2002-2003. According to study data, France ranked first in preventable deaths followed by Japan and Australia.

The Commonwealth Fund reports that "Even the more conservative estimate of 75,000 (preventable) deaths is almost twice the Institute of Medicine's (lower) estimate of the number of deaths attributable to medical errors in the U.S. each year".

The abysmal ranking of the U.S. points to "weaknesses in the nation's health system that requires attention". In reality, the number of preventable deaths in the U.S. each year is many times more than those reported by this study.

In his book Malignant Medicine, Joel M Kauffman, PhD (Organic Chemistry from MIT) writes that in 2000 the U.S. Institute of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences issued a report authored by Barbara Stanfield, MD, MPH that found "over-medicalization from excessive testing and treatment, not medical error to blame" for poor international rankings and increasingly poor health of Americans.

According to Dr. Kauffman, the report listed the following statistics for annual preventable deaths:

* 7,000 deaths/year from medication errors in hospitals

* 12,000 deaths/year from unnecessary surgery

* 20,000 deaths/year from other errors in hospitals

* 80,000 deaths/year from infections contracted in hospitals

* 106,000 deaths/year from non-error, adverse effects of drugs

That totals 225,000 "premature deaths per year in the U.S.A. from medical care". These figures are from data analyzed almost 8 years ago.

Since this data was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, pharmaceutical sales have significantly escalated. Pharmacy Times reports that between 2005 and 2006 "total drug sales increased by 8.3% from 2005, to $274.9 billion and prescriptions dispensed grew to 3.7 billion, an increase of 4.6%".

These numbers are a stark illustration that the potential for "over-medication" is on the rise in the US. And that if this trend continues unchecked, the US rankings for preventable deaths compared to other industrialized nations will inexcusably remain in last place.

Worst of all, these preventable deaths are the deaths of loved ones and our own.


About the Commonwealth Fund:

E.Nolte and C.M.McKee, Measuring the Health of nations: Updating an Earlier Analysis, Health Affairs, Jan/Feb 2008, 27(1):58-71

Joel M. Kauffman, PhD, Malignant Medicine, p. 278

Stanfield, B., (2000) Is US Health Really the Best in the World? Journal of the American Medical Association, 284(4):483-485


About the author

Teri Lee Gruss, MS Human Nutrition

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