September 15

US Healthcare Third Leading Cause of Death_Barbara Starfield, MD

Is US Healthcare Really the best in the World? Starfield_JAMA_2000

 The findings by Barbara Starfield, MD, of Johns Hopkins School of Public Health,

12,000 deaths from unnecessary surgeries;
7,000 deaths from medication errors in hospitals;
20,000 deaths from other errors in hospitals;
80,000 deaths from infections acquired in hospitals;
106,000 deaths from FDA-approved correctly prescribed medicines.

The total estimated number of deaths caused by medical treatment in the US every year is 225,000.

Thus, the US medical system is the third leading cause of death, after heart disease and cancer. 

The findings are not disputed. Indeed, subsequent studies found the number of preventable deaths due to medical intervention to be higher.

"US children are particularly disadvantaged, whereas elderly persons are much less so. Judging from the data on life expectancy at different ages, the US population becomes less disadvantaged as it ages, but even the relatively advantaged position of elderly personsin the United States is slipping. The US relative position for life expectancy in the oldest age group was better in the 1980s than in the 1990s.13 The long-existing poor ranking of the United States with regard to infant mortality14 has been a cause for concern; it is not a result of the high percentages o f low birth weight and infant mortality among the black population, because the international ranking hardly changes when data for the white population only are used."

"The nature and operation of the health care system. In the United States, in contrast to many other countries, the extent to which receipt of services from primary care physicians vs specialists affects overall health and survival has not been considered."

"Recognition of the harmful effects of health care interventions, and the likely possibility that they account for a substantial proportion of the excess deaths in the United States compared with other comparably industrialized nations, sheds new light on imperatives for research and health policy."

  Since 2000 when Dr. Starfield’s analysis was published the death toll from hazardous prescription drugs alone has been far greater:


A sample includes the following:

Drug                                                                   Year Approved                            Year Withdrawn

 Pemoline                                                                      1975                                         2005

 Darvon                                                                         1976                                        2010

Permax                                                                          1988                                        2007

Propulsid (cisapride)                                                     1993                                        2000

Orlaam     (levomethadyl acetate)                                 1993                                        2001—EU; 2003 US

Aprotinin (Trasylol)                                                        1993                                        2007

Serelect   (Sertindole)                                                    1995                                        1998

Redux (dexfenfluramine)                                               1996                                        1997

Duract (bromfenac)                                                       1997                                        1998

Raxar (grepafloxin)                                                       1997                                        1999

Posicor (mibefradil)                                                       1997                                        1998

Baycol (cerivastatin)                                                     1997                                        2001

Sibutramine (Reductil/Meridia)                                       1997                                        2010

Trovan (Trovaloxacin)                                                  1997                            1999—EU; 2002–Pfizer stops mfg.

Avandia (Rosiglitazone)                                               1999                                        2010–EU

Rezulin (troglitazone)                                                   1999                                        2000

Raplon (rapacuronium)                                                1999                                        2001

Vioxx (Rofecoxib)                                                       1999                                        2004

Tequin (gatifloxacin)                                                    1999                                        2006

Lotronex (alosetron)                                                    2000                                       2000

Mylotarg (Gemtuzumab ozogamicin)                           2000                                       2010

Xigris (Drotrecogin alfa)                                              2002                                       2011

Raptiva (Efalizumab)                                                   2003                                       2009

Bextra (Valdecoxib)                                                    2004                                       2005

Tysbari (Natalizumab)                                                 2004                                       2005

Technetium fanolesomab                                            2004                                       2005

Palladone (hydromorphone)                                       2004                                       2005

Zelnorm (tegaserod maleate)                                     2004                                       2007

Exubera (Inhaled insulin)                                            2006                                       2007


See. list of drugs removed from the market for safety reasons at:

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