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Death in a White Coat

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In the January 26, 2010, New York Times, two fourth-year Harvard Medical School students addressed “Patient Safety: Conversation to Curriculum,” stressing “a need to end the secrecy around medical errors and learn from our mistakes”.
Noting that findings by the Institute of Medicine’s 1999 report on medical errors have been “slow to trickle down to medical schools,” Daniel Blumenthal and Ishani Ganguli underscore the “pressing need for a cultural shift that dissolves the secrecy surrounding medical errors.” After all, Albert Einstein defined insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”
In his new book Death by Medicine, Dr. Gary Null — an award-winning journalist and one of this nation’s leading advocates of natural healing — confirms that the number of people who die each day because of medical errors (e.g., physician mistakes, hospital-related illness and reactions to FDA-approved medications) — is the equivalent of six jumbo jets falling out of the sky. Every year, the number of Americans dying at the hands of medicine exceeds the American casualties in the Civil War and World War I combined.
According to Null and his three co-authors, drug company representatives write about new medicines in glowing articles, which are then signed by physicians who are paid handsomely for their cooperation, although they may not know about the adverse side effects of the drugs they promote. The most toxic substances are often approved first, while milder and more natural alternatives are ignored for commercial reasons. Adverse interactions between prescription drugs are largely untested, despite the fact that more and more Americans are taking multiple drug-combinations, often for medical conditions related to simple vitamin and nutrient deficiencies. Fortunately, American healthcare consumers increasingly vote with their pocketbooks, seeking integrative healthcare when they are sick and allopathic medicine only in cases of emergency.
Kudos to practitioners-in-training Blumenthal and Ganguli, who echo the sentiments expressed by famed patient-safety researcher Dr. Lucian Leape, of Harvard’s School of Public Health: “When I go to a doctor, I should have somebody who I know is competent, who I know I can trust and who will put my interest first. Two of those three have nothing to do with science.”

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