Since the election campaign seems to be so centered on the dangers posed by terrorism, I’ve decided to take a look at what dangers we really face. According to the U.S. State Department, the average number of deaths per year from terrorism from 1995 to 2003 is 775. How does this compare with some of the other dangers we face? How about the failing health care industry that Bush is so interested in protecting?
The John Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health estimates there are approximately 250,000 deaths per year from iatrogenic causes (causes induced by a physicians activity, manner or therapy). Broken down into specific catagories and compared to deaths caused by terrorism, this is how the numbers stack up…
The cause, according to the Institute of Medicine, is not so much recklessness on the part of doctors, nurses and other health providers as it is basic flaws in the way hospitals, clinics and pharmacies operate.
For instance, doctors are notorious for poor handwriting, too often leaving pharmacists squinting to decipher the dosage, the terminology makes things worse, “milligrams or micrograms?” And too many drug names are confusingly alike. Consider the painkiller Celebrex and the anti-seizure drug Cerebyx; or Narcan, which treats morphine overdoses, and Norcuron, which can paralyze breathing muscles.
To read more: (Doctors Are Third Largest Cause of Death in the US…)
The article also discusses how the US health statistics rate poorly compared to other developed nations – 12th out of 13 compared. the article also dispells the myth that this poor performance is due to the personal choices Americans make by presenting the data that reveals that Americans, on average, make better choices than people in many of these other countries. So it comes down to a system that should really be fixed. It seems that these studies are not only spitting out disappointing statistics, but they are indicating that the system can be fixed and how it can be fixed.
But what kills me, is how the Bush administration is trying to fix health care by limiting our ability to file lawsuits. What – are we relying on bean-counters to solve medical problems now? Sure, frivolous law suites are a cost that can and should be reduced but you can’t call a law suite frivolous simply because the financial claim is above a certain limit.
If 250,000 Americans die every year from a sub-standard health care system compared to only 775 from terrorism, wouldn’t it make sense to assume that we could be saving many more lives by putting money into the health care system instead of funding a war in Iraq?