Saturday, July 19, 2008

Hazards of Modern Medicine

Harmful effects, which can be serious and even lethal, are associated with every facet of modern medicine... Iatrogenic illness--disease produced as a result of medical treatment--is now recognized as a health hazard of global proportions. MEDLINE (the computerized medical research database of the United States National Library of Medicine) includes over 7,000 articles, reports, and scientific research papers since 1976 that show a substantial number of patients suffer treatment-caused disorders and adverse drug reactions. These harmful effects, which can be serious and even lethal, are associated with every facet of modern medicine including drugs, other medical therapies, diagnostic procedures, and surgery. Injury from medical treatment in the U.S. accounts for more deaths than all other accidents combined. Detrimental effects have become so extensive as to prompt the use of the term "iatroepidemic ". Reporting in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Dr. Lucien Leape of Harvard School of Public Health, has calculated that "180,000 people die in the U.S. each year partly as a result of iatrogenic injury, the equivalent of three jumbo-jet crashes every two days ". In another issue, the Journal of the American Medical Association points out that injury from medical treatment in the U.S. "dwarfs the annual automobile accident mortality of 45,000 and accounts for more deaths than all other accident.Medication caused disorder costs are nearly twice that spent on diabetes treatment and near the amount for cardiovascular disease. For example, the Archives of Internal Medicine reported a cost to the U.S. economy of $76 billion in 1995. This amount is nearly twice that spent on diabetes treatment and near the amount for cardiovascular disease . Iatrogenic disease can be due to many factors. These include: errors in prescribing or administering drugs and other treatments; accidents; inappropriate use of diagnostic or therapeutic measures; and the intrinsic potential for harm and side effects associated with medications, surgery, and other proceduresEvery medication, including those that are sold over the counter without a prescription, has an associated side effect. Commonly used drugs have been found to affect every system. Frequent reactions include skin rashes, nausea, headaches, dizziness, lethargy, diarrhea, and gastric bleeding in a significant number of people. More severe reactions that can be fatal or severely debilitating include deafness, depression, abnormal heart rhythms, angina, bronchospasm, electrolyte disturbances, immune system dysfunction, serious blood disorders such as aplastic anemia, liver or kidney toxicity, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, or anaphylactic shock. These occur in a statistically significant proportion of the population. Despite what is known about adverse drug effects, Dr. David Kessler, Chief of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, believes that "only one per cent of all serious drug reactions are reported . The problem escalates to public health proportions when large numbers receive a treatment and experience its attendant side effect. The New England Journal of Medicine makes this point in discussing the link between breast cancer and menopausal hormone replacement therapy: "because of the high incidence of breast cancer even a slight increase in risk will yield a substantial increase in the number of cancers10". The scale of use causes drugs which are considered safe to end up producing significant damage. In this regard, the widely used non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs cause over 3,300 deaths per year and 41,000 hospitalizations.Many drugs have side effects serious enough to cause a secondary disease warranting its own intensive therapy. An example is Parkinsonism caused by the neurological side effects of anti-depressants or anti-psychotic medication. A Harvard Medical School study showed that drugs were the real cause of the original symptoms in 37 per cent of elderly patients who were treated for Parkinson's disease. L-dopa, the medication used in treating these patients has its own severe side effects, that often require the use of additional drugs to control. Other examples of new diseases caused by medications include collagen vascular disease produced by blood pressure medications, and Cushing's syndrome produced by prolonged cortico-steroid use. The New England Journal of Medicine has published several studies linking cancer chemotherapy to the later appearance of new malignancies . Many drugs are classified as teratogens and cause birth defects when taken during pregnancy. Others can cause diseases in offspring in later life. Unfortunately, these effects may not become apparent until many thousands of women have taken a drug which had been enthusiastically introduced and promoted, the classic example being the tragic epidemic of birth defects in Europe due to thalidomide, or cancer in the children of mothers who took diethylstilbestrol. Overuse of antibiotics has produced resistant strains of formerly susceptible micro-organisms. Serious concern has been voiced about the potential for epidemics which cannot be effectively contained due to drug resistance. An example of this is the emergence of tuberculosis that is resistant to presently available drugs. A U.S. Congress Subcommittee found that in one year unnecessary operations were responsible for more than 12,000 deaths. Studies also show substantial inappropriate and overuse of surgery, and continued use of outmoded operations. A U.S. Congress Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations into Unnecessary Surgery found that in one year, there were approximately two million unnecessary operations, responsible for more than 12,000 deaths, with an approximate cost wastage of $10 billion . Dependency on high technology is a often a source of injury. Dependency on high technology both in diagnosis and treatment has been shown to be a source of injury with machine failure or misapplication of technology. For example, 36 per cent of iatrogenic problems in intensive care units were associated with equipment malfunction Only 15 Percent of medical therapies were found to be reliable, or scientifically based. In addition, medical care is often based on much less scientific evidence than assumed and undergoes radical reversals. The editor of the British Medical Journal revealed that only 15 per cent of all medical therapies have a scientific basis or have been demonstrated to be effective . Yet patients remain vulnerable. An example is the formerly common use of irradiation for enlargement of the thymus in infancy, a condition now recognized to be normal. This treatment has recently been shown to cause cancer in later life in those who received it Pharmaceutical companies push physicians to prescribe new drugs and don't reveal scientific information that opposes the use of that drug. Pharmaceutical marketing also puts great pressure on physicians to use new products. The medical journal Hospital Practice pointed out that pharmaceutical company competition "leads to very aggressive promotion and inundation of the physician with data supporting the use of each new drug". Such marketing may dilute opposing scientific information that is not as well publicized. Ultimately drugs may be withdrawn, but only after substantial harm has been done. For example, benoxaprofen, a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory agent (NSAID) was introduced and heavily marketed in 1982, but then withdrawn after cases of fatal liver toxicity were reported in Great Britain. Zomepirac sodium was also "aggressively marketed as a safe analgesic", but withdrawn after a year and numerous reports of fatal anaphylaxis. The cardiac drugs flecainide and encainide, heavily promoted to control abnormal heart rhythms, were then withdrawn years later after scientific studies showed they caused fatal arrythmias and that those treated with them were two-and-one-half times as likely to die as were those taking a placebo. .The wealth of data has made clear that fundamental deficiencies exist in the current medical approach and that new knowledge is urgently needed. Physicians and patients have come to accept medical hazards as a necessary price to pay for modern diagnosis and therapy even though they may be seriously debilitating or lethal. The same is true with medical errors. Studies have shown errors to be so pervasive that mistakes are considered to be an inevitable part of the medical system, giving rise to the term "necessary fallibility". The deplorable acceptance of disease or medical error as a consequence of treatment reflects a deviation from the most primary principle of medical ethics--primum non nocere--above all do no harm. The wealth of data documenting the serious nature and extent of the hazards associated with modern medicine has made clear that fundamental deficiencies exist in the current medical approach and that new knowledge is urgently needed to effectively address this problem. This is where our research / Ayurvedic Alternative Medicine come into fore…..

3 comments:

grpaulette said...

Wow! I know that I am VERY disappointed that after taking treatment for Hep C. I find out that it caused me several new disorders in my system. Poor circulation in my legs. Bone loss.
Depression.....
I think we should be more informed about this before treatment.

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Rachel Velazquez said...

This post was indeed very informational..It is a good source of knowledge about the health issues that most of us are now facing..Keep posting..

Best regards,
Rachel
Seattle Chiropractor