Iatrogenic Disease – the Secret Epidemic

‘Iatrogenic disease’ is not a phrase you will hear doctors using very often. It means an illness which has been caused by a medical examination or treatment.

The modern medical profession has become very dangerous and iatrogenesis (illness or death caused by doctors) is now one of the top three killers – alongside cancer and circulatory disease.

The result is that the person most likely to kill you is not a mugger, not a burglar, not a drunken driver and not an enraged relative. It is your doctor.

Modern, Western doctors, equipped with fancy drugs, exotic forms of surgery and impressive sounding radiotherapy techniques, are ranked alongside cancer, heart disease and stroke as major killers.

Four out of ten patients who are given drugs suffer serious and sometimes potentially lethal side effects. If the drug you’re prescribed is going to save your life that’s probably an acceptable risk. But how many patients who are merely suffering from something annoying or uncomfortable would willingly take a drug if they knew it might kill them? There are hugely profitable drugs on the market which have never saved any lives but which have killed or made ill countless thousands of people.

One in six patients in hospital is there only because he has been made ill by doctors. Most are suffering from unpleasant or downright dangerous drug side effects. In America, bad reactions to legal drugs kill far more people annually than all illegal drug use combined.

You won’t hear any of this from most doctors, of course. Doctors are notoriously reluctant to admit that the treatments they recommend can do harm. There are several reasons for this.

First, they often don’t know how dangerous drugs and other treatments can be. In just about every Westernised country in the world, doctors receive most of their post graduate education through meetings and journals which are sponsored by drug companies. And drug companies don’t spend too much of their time warning doctors about drug side effects. Global drug companies don’t exist to find cures or help people: they exist solely to make money.

Second, doctors are frightened of being sued.

Third, there are nearly half a million clinical research papers published every week. No doctor on the planet can read them all – or even have the faintest idea what warnings they might give. Useful reports are lost among the irrelevant, commercially inspired dross. Any evidence showing that doctors and drug companies are killing people is easily overlooked or allowed to slip behind a convenient filing cabinet.

Finally, the natural human unwillingness to admit responsibility is exceptionally well developed among doctors who often think of themselves as having god-like qualities. Admitting to mistakes reminds doctors that they are human and fallible.

The bottom line is that during the last century, doctors and drug companies have become louder, more aggressive, a good deal richer and far more powerful but life expectancy has not risen as a result of any of their activities.

Taken from The Kick-Ass A-Z For Over 60s by Vernon Coleman – available as a paperback and an eBook.