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Medically Caused Death in America
AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH Dr. Barbara Starfield: Medically Caused
Death in America

Filed under: medical fraud ? Jon Rappoport @ 3:03 am
Tags: Dr. Barbara Starfield, Jon Rappoport, medical deaths, medical
fraud, medically caused deaths

By Jon Rappoport

On July 26, 2000, the US medical community received a titanic shock
to the system, when one of its most respected and honored
public-health experts, Dr. Barbara Starfield, revealed her findings on
healthcare in America.

The landmark Starfield study, ?Is US health really the best in the
world??, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association,
came to the following conclusions:

Every year in the US there are:

12,000 deaths from unnecessary surgeries;

7,000 deaths from medication errors in hospitals;

20,000 deaths from other errors in hospitals;

80,000 deaths from infections acquired in hospitals;

106,000 deaths from FDA-approved correctly prescribed medicines.

The total of medically-caused deaths in the US every year is 225,000.

This makes the medical system the third leading cause of death in the
US, behind heart disease and cancer.

The Starfield study is the most explosive revelation about modern
healthcare in America ever published. The credentials of its author
and the journal in which it appeared are, within the highest medical
circles, impeccable.

Yet, on the heels of Starfield?s astonishing findings, although media
reporting was extensive, it soon dwindled. No major newspaper or
television network mounted an ongoing ?Medicalgate? investigation.
Neither the US Department of Justice nor federal health agencies
undertook prolonged remedial action.

All in all, it seemed that those parties who could have taken
effective steps to correct this mind-boggling situation preferred to
ignore it.

On December 6-7, 2009, I interviewed Dr. Starfield by email.

What has been the level and tenor of the response to your findings, since 2000?

My papers on the benefits of primary care have been widely used,
including in Congressional testimony and reports. However, the
findings on the relatively poor health in the US have received almost
no attention. The American public appears to have been hoodwinked into
believing that more interventions lead to better health, and most
people that I meet are completely unaware that the US does not have
the ?best health in the world?.

In the medical research community, have your medically-caused
mortality statistics been debated, or have these figures been
accepted, albeit with some degree of shame?

The findings have been accepted by those who study them. There has
been only one detractor, a former medical school dean, who has
received a lot of attention for claiming that the US health system is
the best there is and we need more of it. He has a vested interest in
medical schools and teaching hospitals (they are his constituency).
They, of course, would like an even greater share of the pie than they
now have, for training more specialists. (Of course, the problem is
that we train specialists?at great public cost?who then do not
practice up to their training?they spend half of their time doing work
that should be done in primary care and don?t do it as well.)

Have health agencies of the federal government consulted with you on
ways to mitigate the effects of the US medical system?


Since the FDA approves every medical drug given to the American
people, and certifies it as safe and effective, how can that agency
remain calm about the fact that these medicines are causing 106,000
deaths per year?

Even though there will always be adverse events that cannot be
anticipated, the fact is that more and more unsafe drugs are being
approved for use. Many people attribute that to the fact that the
pharmaceutical industry is (for the past ten years or so) required to
pay the FDA for reviews?which puts the FDA into a untenable position
of working for the industry it is regulating. There is a large
literature on this.

Aren?t your 2000 findings a severe indictment of the FDA and its
standard practices?

They are an indictment of the US health care industry: insurance
companies, specialty and disease-oriented medical academia, the
pharmaceutical and device manufacturing industries, all of which
contribute heavily to re-election campaigns of members of Congress.
The problem is that we do not have a government that is free of
influence of vested interests. Alas, [it] is a general problem of our
society?which clearly unbalances democracy.

Can you offer an opinion about how the FDA can be so mortally wrong
about so many drugs?

Yes, it cannot divest itself from vested interests. (Again, [there is]
a large literature about this, mostly unrecognized by the people
because the industry-supported media give it no attention.

Would it be correct to say that, when your JAMA study was published in
2000, it caused a momentary stir and was thereafter ignored by the
medical community and by pharmaceutical companies?

Are you sure it was a momentary stir? I still get at least one email
a day asking for a reprint?ten years later! The problem is that its
message is obscured by those that do not want any change in the US
health care system.

Do medical schools in the US, and intern/residency programs in
hospitals, offer significant ?primary care? physician training and

NO. Some of the most prestigious medical teaching institutions do not
even have family physician training programs [or] family medicine
departments. The federal support for teaching institutions greatly
favors specialist residencies, because it is calculated on the basis
of hospital beds. [Dr. Starfield has done extensive research showing
that family doctors, who deliver primary care?as opposed to armies of
specialists?produce better outcomes for patients.]

Are you aware of any systematic efforts, since your 2000 JAMA study
was published, to remedy the main categories of medically caused
deaths in the US?

No systematic efforts; however, there have been a lot of studies.
Most of them indicate higher rates [of death] than I calculated.

What was your personal reaction when you reached the conclusion that
the US medical system was the third leading cause of death in the US?

I had previously done studies on international comparisons and knew
that there were serious deficits in the US health care system, most
notably in lack of universal coverage and a very poor primary care
infrastructure. So I wasn?t surprised.

Has anyone from the FDA, since 2000, contacted you about the
statistical findings in your JAMA paper?

NO. Please remember that the problem is not only that some drugs are
dangerous but that many drugs are overused or inappropriately used.
The US public does not seem to recognize that inappropriate care is
dangerous?more does not mean better. The problem is NOT mainly with
the FDA but with population expectations.

? Some drugs are downright dangerous; they may be prescribed according
to regulations but they are dangerous.

Concerning the national health plan before Congress?if the bill is
passed, and it is business as usual after that, and medical care
continues to be delivered in the same fashion, isn?t it logical to
assume that the 225,000 deaths per year will rise?

Probably?but the balance is not clear. Certainly, those who are not
insured now and will get help with financing will probably be
marginally better off overall.

Did your 2000 JAMA study sail through peer review, or was there some
opposition to publishing it?

It was rejected by the first journal that I sent it to, on the grounds
that ?it would not be interesting to readers?!

Do the 106,000 deaths from medical drugs only involve drugs prescribed
to patients in hospitals, or does this statistic also cover people
prescribed drugs who are not in-patients in hospitals?

I tried to include everything in my estimates. Since the commentary
was written, many more dangerous drugs have been added to the

106,000 people die as a result of CORRECTLY prescribed medicines. I
believe that was your point in your 2000 study. Overuse of a drug or
inappropriate use of a drug would not fall under the category of
?correctly prescribed.? Therefore, people who die after ?overuse? or
?inappropriate use? would be IN ADDITION TO the 106,000 and would fall
into another or other categories.

?Appropriate? means that it is not counter to regulations. That does
not mean that the drugs do not have adverse effects.

Some comments from the interviewer:

I?m aware there are reports, outside the mainstream, which conclude
far more than 225,000 people in the US die every year as a result of
medical treatment. For example, see the work of Carolyn Dean, Trueman
Tuck, Gary Null, Martin Feldman, Debora Rasio, Dorothy Smith.

This interview with Dr. Starfield reveals that, even when an author
has unassailable credentials within the medical-research
establishment, the findings can result in no changes made to the

Yes, many persons and organizations within the medical system
contribute to the annual death totals of patients, and media silence
and public ignorance are certainly major factors, but the FDA is the
assigned gatekeeper, when it comes to the safety of medical drugs.
The buck stops there. If those drugs the FDA is certifying as safe
are killing, like clockwork, 106,000 people a year, the Agency must be
held accountable. The American people must understand that.

As for the other 119,000 people killed every year as a result of
hospital treatment, this horror has to be laid at the doors of those
institutions. Further, to the degree that hospitals are regulated and
financed by state and federal governments, the relevant health
agencies assume culpability.

It is astounding, as well, that the US Department of Justice has
failed to weigh in on Starfield?s findings. If 225,000 medically
caused deaths per year is not a crime by the Dept. of Justice?s
standards, then what is?

To my knowledge, not one person in America has been fired from a job
or even censured as result of these medically caused deaths.

Dr. Starfield?s findings have been available for nine years. She has
changed the perception of the medical landscape forever. In a
half-sane nation, she would be accorded a degree of recognition that
would, by comparison, make the considerable list of her awards pale.
And significant and swift action would have been taken to punish the
perpetrators of these crimes and reform the system from its

In these times, medical schools continue turning out a preponderance
of specialists who then devote themselves to promoting the
complexities of human illness and massive drug treatment. Whatever
the shortcomings of family doctors, their tradition speaks to less
treatment, more common sense, and a proper reliance on the immune
systems of patients.

The pharmaceutical giants stand back and carve up the populace into
?promising markets.? They seek new disease labels and new profits
from more and more toxic drugs. They do whatever they can?legally or
illegally?to influence doctors in their prescribing habits. Some drug
studies which show negative results are buried. FDA panels are filled
with doctors who have drug-company ties. Legislators are incessantly
lobbied and supported with pharma campaign monies.

Nutrition, the cornerstone of good health, is ignored or devalued by
most physicians. Meanwhile, the FDA continues to attack nutritional
supplements, even though the overall safety record of these nutrients
is good, whereas, once again, the medical drugs the FDA certifies as
safe are killing 106,000 Americans per year.

Physicians are trained to pay exclusive homage to peer-reviewed
published drug studies. These doctors unfailingly ignore the fact
that, if medical drugs are killing a million Americans per decade, the
studies on which those drugs are based must be fraudulent or, at the
very least, massively incompetent. In other words, the whole
literature is suspect, unreliable, and impenetrable.

At the same time, without evidence, doctors off-handedly tout their
work with great confidence. Some years ago, a resident at a major New
York hospital harangued me about the primacy of controlled studies.
She boasted, in passing, that the hospital?s heart-bypass surgery team
was considered the best in the city, and one of the best in the
country. I asked her for a reference. Was her statement a
combination of folk-wisdom and rumor, or was there a proper study that
confirmed her opinion? A bit chagrined, she admitted it was hearsay.
I was sure she would repeat her tune, however, many times.

Claiming evidence where there is none, and denying the evidence that
the medical system does great harm, are apparently part of the weave
of the modern Hippocratic Oath.

"The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways. The point, however, is to change it." Karl Marx

"He would, wouldn't he?" Mandy Rice-Davies. When asked in court whether she knew that Lord Astor had denied having sex with her.

“I think it would be a good idea” Ghandi, when asked about Western Civilisation.

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