All Aboard

For the medical mystery tour

What is the mystery? The mystery is whether you will get out alive once you join the tour.

According to a recent survey from the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services, there is a death due to medical “adverse events” every three minutes of everyday. Why on earth do people put up with this? Why do people continue to line up begging for more: punishment?

Not only do 180,000 people die of these “adverse events” every year, 80,000 of these deaths are caused by “errors that could be prevented, such as letting infections develop, giving the patient the wrong medication or administering an excess dose of the right drug.”

We seem to illogically ignore these figures. One definition of insanity is repeating the same process and expecting a different result. Statistics prove that the medical system in its current form does not work. Not only does it not work, it is breaking the backs of all of us financially. Medical costs are $2.5 trillion annually. Unnecessary procedures and errors alone cost $1 trillion. That is enough money to buy a house for everyone who lives in the US.

We have been bullied. We are afraid of pain, and we are afraid to die. People who know this, and stand to profit from these fears, have a fairly easy time convincing us that they can help us. Many of the drug commercials are, essentially, lies, or half-truths. If you listen carefully to the commercials you will learn that the risks in many cases do not outweigh the benefits. Do you really want to risk dying so your hands hurt a little less? As far as surgeries, doctors make lots of money on surgical procedures. Doctors like money. Doctors try to get money.

Can we not demand a reckoning?

The reason I referred to medical mystery “tour” has to do with the risk element. USA Today carried an editorial on this subject in November of 2010. In the editorial, they compared the number of people who die each day of medical “adverse events” with the number of people who fit in a 747. A 747 can accommodate 540 people. There are 493 deaths per day due to medical events.

Can you imagine what would happen to airlines if a 747 crashed every single day? How long would that industry continue? What dummies would fly?

Not feeling so good? Why don’t you call your doctor? He’ll fix you right up. Just make sure your life insurance is current first.