Could Doctors really be the 3rd leading cause of death in Americans?

An article posted in JAMA (the best medical journal) is a very interesting read. The author cites an estimated 225,000 deaths per year are iatrogenic. This means the death is induced by the doctor. Here’s a breakdown of the 225,000:

  • 12,000 deaths/year from unnecessary surgeries
  • 7,000 deaths/year from medication errors in hospitals
  • 20,000 deaths/year from “other hospital errors”
  • 80,000 deaths/year from hospital inquired infections
  • 106,000 deaths/year from side effects of drugs

I understand the article was published in 2000, however it makes sense that the amount of deaths is going to be higher 13 years later. The point is, Doctor’s are the third leading cause of death in Americans, to only heart disease and cancer.

 2010 deaths in america


These of course are conservative estimates.  The author acknowledges this, and if higher estimates are used it could be around 285,000 deaths/year.  Still not enough to pass heart disease or cancer, but is still worth noting.

It is well known and documented that the US spends the most on health care. In 2009, the per capita spent 1.5x more on health care than the second most expensive per capita. However, Bloomberg ranks the US 46 out of 48 most efficient health care systems to only Serbia and Brazil.  It is worth noting that in front of the US are 43 Dominican Republic, 44 Turkey and 45 Iran.

Click here for the Bloomberg Rankings

health care cost


Unfortunately, the US runs on the assumption that the more expensive the health care, the better the results. Until the paradigm shifts, we will continue to pay more for insurance and in turn receive poor care.


Here’s a link to the article:









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