Drugs and Doctors May be the Leading Cause of Death in U.S.
January 15, 2003
Joseph Mercola, D.O.
At one time, the
main title of my Web site read:
are the Third leading Cause of Death
Many of you reading this have read or seen this in many places
other than my Web site. This article, available on my home
page, was widely circulated on the Internet and was one of
the reasons why my Web site was initially popular. What you
may not realize is that I am the one who made this analysis
and popularized it. The original study was published by Dr.
Starfield, a full professor of public health at the most prestigious
hospital in the United States, Johns Hopkins. Her study never
had the headline in it, but instead listed the published research
documenting the various causes of deaths that doctors contributed
to. I simply added them all up and compared them to cardiovascular
diseases and cancer and came up with the above headline, which
was widely circulated on the Internet.
Interestingly, when I contacted Dr. Starfield by e-mail she
disagreed with the headline I had come up with. She did not
feel that doctors were the third leading cause of death, but
thought they were the number one cause of death because of
their failure to inform their patients about the truth of
health. Now this might be a bit too harsh as even if people
understand health truth they have freedom of choice and can
choose to use sugar, soda and drugs (legal and illegal) to
compromise their health and longevity.
However, JAMA actually
published a study a year earlier that could support that doctors
may be the leading cause of death in the United States.
This finding is
more of a speculation though, so below I have provided some
other studies to support this assertion.
- In 1994, an
estimated 2,216,000 (1,721,000 to 2,711,000) hospitalized
patients had serious adverse drug reactions (ADRs) and 106,000
(76,000 to 137,000) had fatal ADRs, making these reactions
between the fourth and sixth leading cause of death.
- Fatal ADRs accounted
for 0.32 percent (95 percent confidence interval (CI), 0.23
percent to 0.41 percent) of hospitalized patients.
April 15, 1998;279(15):1200-5
Nephrol. December 22, 2003
Medication-related problems (MRP) continue to occur at
a high rate in ambulatory hemodialysis (HD) patients.
Medication-dosing problems (33.5 percent), adverse drug
reactions (20.7 percent), and an indication that was not
currently being treated (13.5 percent) were the most common
5,373 medication orders were reviewed and a MRP was identified
every 15.2 medication exposures.
Times. December 9-15, 2003;99(49):24-5.
- In 2002, 16,176 adverse drug reaction reports were received,
of which 67 percent related to reactions categorized as
World Sci. December, 2003;25(6):264-8.
Medication administration errors (MAEs) were observed
in two departments of a hospital for 20 days.
The medication administration error rate was 14.9 percent.
Dose errors were the most frequent (41 percent) errors,
followed by wrong time (26 percent) and wrong rate errors.
Ten percent of errors were estimated as potentially life-threatening,
26 percent potentially significant and 64 percent potentially
and Fatal Drug Reactions in US Hospitals
morbidity and mortality have been estimated to cost more
that $136 billion a year in United States. These estimates
are higher than the total cost of cardiovascular care or
diabetes care in the United States. A major component of
these costs is adverse drug reactions (ADE).
J Med August 1, 2000;109(2):122-30
- About 0.05 percent
of all hospital admissions were certainly or probably drug-related.
- Incidence figures
based on death certificates only may seriously underestimate
the true incidence of fatal adverse drug reactions.
J Clin Pharmacol October, 2002;58(7):479-82
- In one study
of 200 patients, ADRs may have contributed to the deaths
of two (one percent) patients.
Clin Pharm Ther October, 2000;25(5):355-61
- In a survey
of over 28,000 patients, ADRs were considered to be the
cause of 3.4 percent of hospital admissions. Of these, 187
ADRs were coded as severe. Gastrointestinal complaints (19
percent) represented the most common events, followed by
metabolic and hemorrhagic complications (nine percent).
The drugs most frequently responsible for these ADRs were
diuretics, calcium channel blockers, nonsteroidal antiinflammatory
drugs and digoxin.
Am Geriatr Soc December, 2002;50(12):1962-8