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Top Tips to Avoid Pharmaceutical Injury

Written by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

prevention of medical errors

Story at-a-glance -

  • According to the latest survey, 1 in 40 American children between the ages of 3 and 17 is now on the autism spectrum
  • A former expert witness for the government claims the Department of Justice misrepresented his opinion, and that he in fact found evidence of a link between autism and vaccinations in certain children
  • Medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the U.S., killing an estimated 250,000 Americans each year; side effects from drugs, taken as prescribed, account for the vast majority of iatrogenic deaths
  • Aside from educating yourself on the risks and benefits of vaccines, 10 additional suggestions are offered that can help you avoid medical injury, including doing due diligence before undergoing colonoscopy and enlisting a personal health advocate during hospitalization
  • Other suggestions include knowing the most effective protocol for sepsis, optimizing vitamin D rather than getting the flu shot, avoiding antibiotics and drugs unless absolutely necessary, and using drug-free strategies to treat pain

30 Tips in 30 Days Designed to Help You Take Control of Your Health

This article is included in Dr. Mercola's All-Time Top 30 Health Tips series. Every day during the month of January, a new tip will be added that will help you take control of your health. Want to see the full list? Click here.

Vaccines have quickly become Big Pharma's most lucrative profit center. Currently valued at more than $34 billion a year, the vaccine industry is projected to exceed $49 billion by 2022.1 There are several reasons for this rapid growth. Not only are vaccines priced much higher than pills, but governments and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are also engaged in the marketing of vaccines.

These unethical partnerships, which use both taxpayer and NGO money, advance misleading research intended to frighten the public. Worse, they discredit vaccine critics who raise legitimate safety and efficacy questions and even discredit the families and victims of vaccine injuries themselves.

To cash in on vaccine profits, Big Pharma, governments and NGOs have cast all vaccines as "life-saving." One of the clearest examples is the attempt to present the HPV vaccine as an "anticancer" vaccine, even though there's not a single shred of evidence that it actually has an impact on cervical cancer rates. Meanwhile, mounting evidence of serious harm and death caused by the HPV vaccine is being ignored or cast aside as "coincidental."

To Avoid Vaccine Injury, Educate Yourself About the Risks

The official stance repeated by most mainstream media is that vaccines have been thoroughly researched, that "hundreds" of studies have proven their safety, and that no link between vaccines and health problems, such as autism, have ever been found.

It sounds definitive enough, and is often repeated as established fact. Yet it's far from the whole truth. Importantly, the vaccine industry has long shied away from evaluating vaccinated versus unvaccinated populations to determine potential differences in general health outcomes.

The few independent scientists who have attempted such an investigation have little comfort to give to those who believe vaccines are essential for health, and mandatory use of vaccines by all children is the only way to protect society from disease.

Vaccine May Actually Be Doing More Harm Than Good

One such study,2 published in 2017, examined health outcomes among infants 3 to 5 months old following the introduction of diphtheria-tetanus-pertussis (DTP) and oral polio vaccine in Guinea-Bissau, which took place in the early 1980s. This population offered the rare opportunity to compare vaccinated and unvaccinated children due to the way the vaccines were rolled out in the West African country.

Shockingly, researchers discovered "DTP was associated with fivefold higher mortality than being unvaccinated." According to the authors, "All currently available evidence suggests that DTP vaccine may kill more children from other causes than it saves from diphtheria, tetanus or pertussis."

In short, the researchers concluded that DTP vaccine weakened the children's immune systems, rendering them vulnerable to a whole host of other often deadly diseases and serious health problems.

In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now recommends that children receive 69 doses of 16 vaccines by the time they're 18 years old, with 50 doses of 14 vaccines given before the age of 6.3

This, despite the fact that no thorough investigation has ever been conducted to determine how all of these vaccines actually affect a child's health. What's worse, no one is tracking the health outcomes of children who adhere to the federally recommended childhood vaccine schedule and state mandatory vaccination programs.

Lawyers with the U.S. Justice Department also defend vaccines in the federal vaccine injury compensation program (VICP), commonly referred to as "vaccine court," which means the U.S. government has a stake in maintaining the illusion that vaccines are a necessary lifesaving measure that causes minimal harm.

High Vaccination Rate Does Not Translate Into Better Infant Health

What we do know is that:

The U.S. has the highest vaccination rate in the world, with 94 to 96 percent of children entering kindergarten having received multiple doses of vaccines4

The U.S. also has one of the highest infant and maternal mortality rates of any developed nation5,6

1 in 6 American children has a developmental disability, which includes ADD, ADHD, autism, hearing loss, learning disabilities, mental disabilities, seizures and stammering — many of which are also listed or known side effects of vaccines

54 percent of children have a diagnosed chronic illness, including anxiety, asthma, behavioral problems, bone and muscle disorders, chronic ear infections, depression, diabetes, food and/or environmental allergies and epilepsy.

This list again mirrors many of the acknowledged side effects of vaccines, and the rise in prevalence of these diseases parallel the rise in required vaccines, yet vaccine promoters insist that these illnesses are in no way associated with vaccinations

Common Vaccine Side Effects

Both the U.S. Congress and the Supreme Court have also admitted that government licensed and recommended childhood vaccines are "unavoidably unsafe,"7 and possible side effects that are actually listed on vaccine inserts include:

Autoimmune diseases

Food allergies

Asthma

Eczema

Type 1 diabetes

Rheumatoid arthritis

Tics

Tourette syndrome

ADD/ADHD

Autism

Speech delay

Neurodevelopment disorders

Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)

Seizure disorder

Narcolepsy

Vaccines also have the highest number of recalls of any drug, which speaks to their "unavoidably unsafe" nature. Victims have also received compensation from the federal vaccine injury compensation program (VICP) for the following (and other) injuries:

Guillain-Barre syndrome

Transverse myelitis

Encephalopathy

Seizure disorder hypoxic seizure

Death

Brachial neuritis

Acute disseminated encephalomyelitis

Chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyradiculoneuropathy (CIDP)

Premature ovarian failure

Bell's palsy

Type 1 diabetes

Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura

Rheumatic arthritis

Multiple sclerosis

Fibromyalgia

Anaphylaxis

Ocular myasthenia gravis

Infantile spasms

The Vaccines-Autism Link Revived

According to the latest survey,8,9 1 in 40 American children between the ages of 3 and 17 is now on the autism spectrum. This shocking update was published in the journal Pediatrics in December 2018. In 2014, the rate was 1 in 59; in 2010, it was 1 in 68; in 2000, it was 1 in 150.10 To say we're looking at exponential growth would be an understatement. But do vaccines have anything to do with this trend?

According to a Full Measure report11 by award-winning investigative reporter and former CBS correspondent Sharyl Attkisson, Dr. Andrew Zimmerman, a pediatric neurologist, was the pro-vaccine expert witness the government used to debunk and turn down autism claims in vaccine court.

"Zimmerman was the government's top expert witness and had testified that vaccines didn't cause autism. The debate was declared over," Attkisson reports. "But now Dr. Zimmerman has provided remarkable new information.

He claims that during the vaccine hearings all those years ago, he privately told government lawyers that vaccines can, and did cause autism in some children. That turnabout from the government's own chief medical expert stood to change everything about the vaccine-autism debate. If the public were to find out …

And he has come forward and explained how he told the United States government vaccines can cause autism in a certain subset of children and [the] United States government, the Department of Justice [DOJ], suppressed his true opinions."

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., chairman of The World Mercury Project, was the one who convinced Zimmerman to speak out about the cover-up. In a sworn affidavit, dated September 7, 2018, Zimmerman states that, in 2007, he told DOJ lawyers he had "discovered exceptions in which vaccinations could cause autism."

"I explained that in a subset of children … vaccine-induced fever and immune stimulation … did cause regressive [brain disease] with features of autism spectrum disorder," Zimmerman writes.

A week after this 2007 meeting, the DOJ fired him, saying his services would no longer be needed. According to Zimmerman, the DOJ then went on to misrepresent his opinion in future cases, making no mention of the exceptions he'd informed them of. Kennedy has now filed a fraud complaint with the DOJ Inspector General.

William Thompson, Ph.D., a senior scientist at the CDC's National Center for Immunizations and Respiratory Diseases, has also confessed to covering up links found between vaccines and autism, in this case the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine.

According to Thompson, this scientific fraud was committed for the express purpose of covering up potential safety problems so the agency would be able to maintain that the MMR vaccine had been proven safe to give to all children. By eliminating the incriminating data, the link vanished, and this research has been cited as proof ever since that vaccines don't cause autism.

Attkisson's report also reveals how Congressmen who wanted to investigate the autism-vaccine link were bullied, harassed and threatened. Dan Burton (R-IN), Dr. Dave Weldon (R-FL) and Bill Posey (R-FL) are among 11 current and former members of Congress and staff who told Attkisson they were warned to drop the vaccine safety issue by PhRMA lobbyists.

Vaccines Can Have Serious Consequences for Adults Too

While children are more susceptible to vaccine damage than adults, grownups can and have been seriously injured and killed by routine vaccinations as well. It's important to realize that no vaccine is 100 percent safe for everyone. As reported by CNN, an oncologist with London's Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust recently died following a routine yellow fever vaccination:12

"Martin Gore, 67, died Thursday morning after receiving the vaccine, which is recommended to travelers visiting sub-Saharan Africa, most of South America, and parts of Central American and the Caribbean …

Gore's death casts light on the heightened risk associated with the yellow fever vaccine and the over-60 demographic. Typical side effects of the vaccine include headaches, muscle pain, mild fever and soreness at the injection site …

However, the vaccinations can, in rare circumstances, cause more severe side effects, including allergic reactions and problems affecting the brain or organs …

The WHO reported that all cases of viscerotropic disease — a rare but dangerous side effect of yellow fever vaccinations where an illness similar to wild-type yellow fever proliferates in multiple organs — have occurred in primary vaccines, starting two to five days after vaccination."

Might Vaccine Reaction Rate Be as High as 1 in 10?

In the video above, Del Bigtree,13 an Emmy Award-winning producer of "The Doctors" talk show for six years, and one of the producers of the documentary, "Vaxxed," discusses vaccine safety, or rather the lack thereof.

In it, he recounts how, in 2010, the CDC hired a company to automate the federal vaccine adverse event reporting system (VAERS) in such a way that any potential vaccine reactions reported to doctors participating in the Harvard Pilgrim HMO would automatically be uploaded into the VAERS database.

Remarkably, preliminary data showed that out of 376,452 individuals given 45 different vaccines, 35,570 possible vaccine reactions were identified. This means nearly 1 in 10 people suffered a reaction after vaccination concerning enough to be reported, yet the official CDC mantra is that the risk for serious vaccine injury or death is 1 in 1 million.

Unfortunately, while the creation of VAERS in 1986 was an opportunity to get a firmer grasp of the number of potential vaccine reactions, injuries and deaths occurring after vaccinations given in the U.S., the CDC didn't follow through, and the project fell by the wayside.

Medical Errors Are the Third Leading Cause of Death in the US

While I've focused a lot of attention on vaccines and the necessity for educating yourself about their risks in this article, vaccines are by far not the only hazard presented by the medical industry. In fact, medical errors in general are the third leading cause of death, killing an estimated 250,000 Americans each year,14,15 an increase of about 25,000 people annually from data published in 2000.16

Side effects from drugs, taken as prescribed, account for the vast majority of iatrogenic deaths, but unnecessary surgeries, medication errors in hospitals, hospital-acquired infections and other medical errors occurring in hospitals also claim their fair share of lives.

Research17 published in 2013 estimated that preventable hospital errors kill 210,000 Americans each year — a figure that comes very close to the latest statistics. However, when deaths related to diagnostic errors, errors of omission, and failure to follow guidelines were included, the number skyrocketed to 440,000 preventable hospital deaths each year.

10 Tips to Avoid Medical Harm

How can you avoid becoming one of these statistics? Aside from educating yourself on the risks and benefits of vaccines, here are several additional suggestions:

Ask your doctor whether a recommended test and/or treatment is really necessary, and do your own homework — According to a report by the Institute of Medicine, an estimated 30 percent of all medical procedures, tests and medications may be unnecessary,18 any one of which can put you at risk for a potentially serious or lethal side effect.

An investigation19 by the Mayo Clinic published in 2013 also revealed between 40 and 78 percent of the medical testing, treatments and procedures you receive are of no benefit to you — or are actually harmful — as determined by clinical studies. To learn which tests and interventions may do more harm than good, browse through the Choosing Wisely website.20

Avoid hospitals unless absolutely necessary — According to 2011 statistics, 1 in 25 patients in the U.S. end up contracting some form of infection while in the hospital,21 and 205 Americans die from hospital-acquired infections each and every day.22

Do your due diligence before undergoing endoscopy — If you're having a colonoscopy or any other procedure using a flexible endoscope done, you can significantly reduce your risk of contracting an infection by asking the hospital or facility how the scope is cleaned, and which cleaning agent is used.

Some esophagoscopes and bronchoscopes have sterile sheaths with disposable air-water and biopsy channels, but many others do not, and must be cleaned between each use. If the hospital or clinic uses glutaraldehyde, or the brand name Cidex, cancel your appointment and go elsewhere.

About 80 percent of clinics use glutaraldehyde because it's a less expensive alternative; however, it does not do a good job of sterilizing the equipment. If they use peracetic acid, your likelihood of contracting an infection from a previous patient is slim.

To learn more about this, see my interview with David Lewis, Ph.D., in "How Improper Sterilization of Endoscopes Could Put Your Health at Risk."

Enlist a health care advocate — Once hospitalized, you're at risk for medical errors, so one of the best safeguards is to have someone there with you. It's important to have a personal advocate present to ask questions and take notes.

For every medication given in the hospital, ask questions such as: "What is this medication? What is it for? What's the dose?" Most people, doctors and nurses included, are more apt to go through that extra step of due diligence to make sure they're getting it right if they know they'll be questioned about it.

To learn more, listen to my interview with Dr. Andrew Saul in "What Hospitals Won't Tell You — Vital Strategies That Could Save Your Life," or pick up a copy of his book, "Hospitals and Health: Your Orthomolecular Guide to a Shorter Hospital Stay."

In it, he discusses the dangers of hospital stays, the type of patient that tends to get killed most frequently, and how you can protect your health and life in the event you have to be hospitalized. For example, reminding nurses and doctors to wash their hands and change gloves before touching you can go a long way toward avoiding contamination with potentially lethal microbes.

Do your own prep for surgery — If you or someone you know is scheduled for surgery, print out the WHO surgical safety checklist and implementation manual,23 which is part of the campaign "Safe Surgery Saves Lives." The checklist can be downloaded free of charge here. Print it out and bring it with you, as this can help you protect yourself, your family member or friend from preventable errors in care.

Know the most effective protocol for sepsis — Sepsis is a progressive disease process initiated by an aggressive, dysfunctional immune response to an infection in the bloodstream, which is why it's sometimes referred to as blood poisoning. Each year, an estimated 1 million Americans get sepsis24,25 and up to half of them die as a result.26,27,28

Symptoms of sepsis are often overlooked, even by health professionals, and without prompt treatment, the condition can be deadly.

Unfortunately, conventional treatments often fail, and most hospitals have yet to embrace the use of intravenous (IV) vitamin C, hydrocortisone and thiamine,29 a treatment developed by Dr. Paul Marik, which has been shown to reduce sepsis mortality from 40 to a mere 8.5 percent.30,31 Common signs and symptoms of sepsis to watch out for include:32

  • A high fever
  • Inability to keep fluids down
  • Rapid heartbeat; rapid, shallow breathing and/or shortness of breath
  • Lethargy and/or confusion
  • Slurred speech, often resembling intoxication

Should a few or all of these be present, seek immediate medical attention to rule out sepsis. Also inform the medical staff that you suspect sepsis, as time is of the essence when it comes to treatment, and urge them to use Marik's protocol (currently the standard of care for sepsis at Sentara Norfolk General Hospital, where Marik works). You can learn more about this protocol by following the hyperlink provided above.

Optimize your vitamin D instead of getting the flu vaccine — Research33,34 shows vitamin D optimization is a more effective flu prevention strategy than flu vaccination, reducing respiratory infections such as influenza by 50 percent in those with vitamin D blood levels below 10 ng/mL. People with higher vitamin D levels at baseline may reduce their risk by about 10 percent, which the researchers stated was about equal to the effect of flu vaccines.

Aside from vitamin D, loading up on vitamins B1 and C may go a long way toward keeping you healthy through the flu season and beyond. Influenza has also been successfully treated with high-dose vitamin C.35 Taking zinc lozenges at the first sign of a cold or flu can also be helpful.

Avoid antibiotics — Drugs are vastly overprescribed and misused, and this is particularly true for antibiotics. Avoid using them unless absolutely necessary, and remember they don't work for viral infections. Unnecessary use of antibiotics is one of the driving causes of antibiotic-resistant superbugs.

Turn a deaf ear to drug ads — While drug makers are required to inform consumers about potential side effects in their ads, they've perfected drug ad narration to make them less frightful.36

Avoid drugs, unless absolutely necessary — As mentioned, drugs — taken as prescribed — account for a majority of the 250,000 people who die from medical mistakes in the U.S. each year. A great many, if not most, diseases can be effectively addressed using simple lifestyle changes.

Key factors include diet, exercise and nonexercise movement, sleep and stress reduction. To investigate your options, you can search my database of tens of thousands of articles simply by entering your condition in the search engine.

Among the most lethal drugs right now are the opioids, which need to be used with extreme care and only in the short term. For treatment options, see "Treating Pain Without Drugs," and "Study Reveals Previously Unknown Mechanism Behind Acupuncture's Ability to Reduce Pain," which also provides a long list of other drug-free pain relief strategies.

+ Sources and References