Medication Errors Cause One Death Every Day and 1.3 million Injuries annually in the US

How Common Are Medical Errors? Does Medication Kill People?

A News Release by the World Health Organization (WHO) on March 17, 2017, states the fact that, “Medication errors cause at least one death every day and injure approximately 1.3 million people annually in the United States of America alone.” Their press release announces an initiative to reduce that number by half within the next five years.

Medication Errors Cause One Death Every Day and 1.3 million Injuries annually in the US-AUstin-Tx-Chiropractor-Natural-Healthcare-Spine-Nervous-SystemAlthough the release notes that many countries do not keep good records on drug errors, the WHO estimates that worldwide the cost of medication errors is $4.2 billion, equal to about one percent of the world’s total expenditures on healthcare. According to the WHO release, “The Global Patient Safety Challenge on Medication Safety aims to address the weaknesses in health systems that lead to medication errors and the severe harm that results.”

Dr. Margaret Chan, WHO Director-General stated, “Apart from the human cost, medication errors place an enormous and unnecessary strain on health budgets. Preventing errors saves money and saves lives.” Dr. Chan continued, “Most harm arises from systems failures in the way care is organized and coordinated, especially when multiple health providers are involved in a patient’s care. Any one of these, or a combination, can affect the prescribing, dispensing, consumption, and monitoring of medications, which can result in severe harm, disability and even death.”

In the WHO release, Liam Donaldson, WHO’s envoy for Patient Safety, stated, “Over the years, I have spoken to many people who have lost loved ones to medication-related errors and their stories, their quiet dignity and their acceptance of situations that should never have arisen have moved me deeply.” He continued, “It is to the memories of all those who have died due to incidents of unsafe care that this Challenge should be dedicated. There is a need for an organizational culture that routinely implements best practices and that avoids blame when mistakes are made.”

Dr. George Curry, president of the International Chiropractor Association commented on this issue by saying, “While every healthcare professional should applaud the effort to reduce medication errors that lead to harm, the discussion should also address ways to reduce the over utilization of medications in the population.” Curry continued, “One sure way to reduce the incidence of medical errors is to look to other forms of care that do not involve medications. Chiropractic has always represented an alternative to the medication approach for many millions of people.”

Dr. Robert Braile, chiropractor and author makes the point, “I guess a half reduction in the number of deaths and injuries would be considered by some as progress. But even if the WHO initiative is successful, that would mean that the WHO has a goal of only one death every other day and 650,000 injuries each year. Why is this level of carnage acceptable from a healthcare delivery systems that touts the mantra, ‘First do no harm?'”

If you or anyone you know could benefit from a better functioning nervous system, please call us at 512-452-2525 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Swanson. Austin chiropractor located in north central Austin, TX.


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Study: Smoking Kills 1 in 10 Worldwide

How Many People Die Each Year Due To Smoking? Why Do People Still Smoke?

The headline above comes from a story published on April 6, 2017, by United Press International reporting on an April 5th study published in The Lancet showing that 11% of all deaths world-wide were due to smoking. This translates into 6.4 million deaths due to smoking each year.

Study Smoking Kills 1 in 10 Worldwide-Austin-TX-ATX-Chiropractor-PI-Personal-Injury-Car-Truck-Accident-Collison-Pain-CareThe study also showed that half of those deaths occur in only four countries. Those countries are the United States, Russia, China and India. These numbers are in spite of the fact that most all smokers know the risks and health hazards associated with smoking.

In spite of the facts and figures about the health risks, the study showed that almost 1 billion people worldwide are daily smokers. The numbers are much higher for men that woman. The actual percentage of smokers has actually gone down over the past few decades, but due to the rise in population, the number of smokers has increased.

In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that 15 of every 100 U.S. adults age 18 and older smoke cigarettes. Worldwide, India has 11.2% of the world’s total smokers. More men than women smoke but the study showed that USA, China and India, which were the leading three countries in total number of female smokers, accounted for 27.3% of the world’s female smokers. The countries with the most male daily smokers in 2015 were China with 254 million, India with 91 million, and Indonesia with 50 million. The countries with the most female smokers were the Unites States with 17 million, followed by China with 14 million, and India with 13.5 million.

“Despite more than half a century of unequivocal evidence of the harmful effects of tobacco on health, today, 1 in every 4 men in the world is a daily smoker,” said study author Dr. Emmanuela Gakidou, in a press release. “Smoking remains the second-largest risk factor for early death and disability, and so to further reduce its impact we must intensify tobacco control to further reduce smoking prevalence and attributable burden.”

A similar study published in JAMA Internal Medicine late last year showed that 28.6% of all cancer deaths in the US in 2015 were attributable to cigarette smoking. In the conclusion of that study, the authors wrote, “The proportion of cancer deaths attributable to cigarette smoking varies substantially across states and is highest in the South, where up to 40% of cancer deaths in men are caused by smoking. Increasing tobacco control funding, implementing innovative new strategies, and strengthening tobacco control policies and programs, federally and in all states and localities, might further increase smoking cessation, decrease initiation, and reduce the future burden of morbidity and mortality associated with smoking-related cancers.”

In an ongoing attempt to reduce the number of smokers worldwide, in 2003 the World Health Organization created the Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC). The WHO FCTC created guidelines to provide the foundation for countries to implement and manage tobacco control programs. In 2008, the WHO FCTC created the MPOWER measures to help implement the tobacco control measures.

Dr. Douglas Bettcher, Director of the Department of Prevention of Noncommunicable Diseases at WHO headquarters in Geneva stated, “The WHO FCTC and its guidelines provide the foundation for countries to implement and manage tobacco control. The MPOWER measures help make this a reality and have changed the landscape of global tobacco control.” Dr. Bettsher continued, “Along with national and local governments and other partner organizations in high-burden countries, we are making positive change happen in some of the toughest tobacco industry strongholds. Together, we have protected nearly 1.8 billion people with at least one new MPOWER measure at the highest level of achievement since 2007.”

If you or anyone you know could benefit from a better functioning nervous system, please call us at 512-452-2525 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Swanson. Austin chiropractor located in north central Austin, TX.


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Lowering the Bar: Adult ADHD, a Risky Diagnosis?

Do Adults Need ADHD Medication? What Are ADHD Medications Side Effects?

The above headline comes from a September 10, 2016, article on MedPage Today that calls into question the growing numbers of adults taking ADHD medications. The article begins by noting that opioid abuse has recently been the focus of much public attention, but less talked about is the growing problem of abuse and the growing numbers of people using ADHD drugs.

lowering-the-bar-adult-adhd-a-risky-diagnosis-austin-tx-chiropractor-health-wellness-chiropractor-car-truck-accidentThe article notes that since 2013, the FDA has received 19,000 reports of complications from ADHD drugs. The vast majority of these come from stimulants like Adderall, Concerta, Ritalin, and Vyvanse. Adults seem to be far more likely to suffer adverse events involving hospitalization or death than are children.

According to the latest federal estimates, Adderall has led the way for increased usage going from 345,000 people in 2006 to 1.4 million in 2014. The number of emergency room visits due to Adderall and Ritalin have increased fivefold over the past 7 years. Between the years 2010 and 2015, sales of ADHD drugs increased from $7.9 billion to $11.2 billion.

One concern is that ADHD drug testing on adults lasts only several weeks or months and falls far short of the years that many other drugs are tested. This means that the long-term effects of these drugs are not known.

The article gives two basic reasons for the jump in usage. First is the aggressive marketing by the drug companies that produce these drugs. Second, they note that the diagnostic criteria for prescribing these drugs has been greatly relaxed allowing more people to fall within the diagnosis that is treated with these drugs. In other words, “The bar has been lowered.”

A panel from the American Psychiatric Association made the recommendations to lower the criteria in 2013. The article noted that 78% of the experts making the recommendations had financial ties to drug companies who benefited from the panel’s recommendations.

The article notes that some of the symptoms needed to reach an adult ADHD diagnosis include such vague items as an inability to focus on tasks, fidgeting, or interrupting others. Additionally the article reported that, “One study published in 2010 found that 22% of adults tested for ADHD had exaggerated their symptoms.”

If you or anyone you know could benefit from a better functioning nervous system, please call us at 512-452-2525 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Swanson. We are located in north central Austin, TX.


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Medical Error – the Third Leading Cause of Death in the US

What is the 3rd leading Cause of Death in the U.S.? Can Medical Errors be Improved?

The title above comes from a May 3, 2016, paper published in the prestigious British Medical Journal. The study was also reported on by a number of news outlets and articles.

Medical Error - the Third Leading Cause of Death in the US - Austin TX Chiropractor Personal Injury Car Truck Accident PainAccording to study author Dr. Martin Makary, surgical director of the Johns Hopkins Multidisciplinary Pancreas Clinic and a professor of surgery at Johns Hopkins Medicine, medical error has been defined as an unintended act (either of omission or commission) or one that does not achieve its intended outcome, the failure of a planned action to be completed as intended (an error of execution), the use of a wrong plan to achieve an aim (an error of planning), or a deviation from the process of care that may or may not cause harm to the patient.

The paper notes that many times medical error is not listed as the cause of death because there was no specific code for the event. Additionally, if an error leads to a fatal heart attack, the cause of death will most likely be listed as a heart attack.

In a May 4, 2016, CBS News article on this subject, Dr. Makary explained that there is very little funding for research to decrease medical errors.  One of the big issues that we in the patient safety research field face, that we run up against, is a problem where there’s very little funding for research in making care safer and better. Part of the problem is that our national funding is informed from our national health statistics. But those statistics don’t recognize medical care gone awry as a cause of death.

In a May 3, 2016, Washington Post article, Kenneth Sands, director of health-care quality at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, an affiliate of Harvard Medical School, noted that the problem is not getting better.  The overall numbers haven’t changed, and that’s discouraging and alarming.

In comparing medical care to the airline industry, Sands commented that airlines have a much stricter standardization of procedure compared to medical care.  There has just been a higher degree of tolerance for variability in practice than you would see in other industries.

In his paper, Dr. Makary offered steps on how to combat this problem by stating,  Human error is inevitable. Although we cannot eliminate human error, we can better measure the problem to design safer systems mitigating its frequency, visibility, and consequences. Strategies to reduce death from medical care should include three steps.

The three remedies laid out by Dr. Makary are:

  1. Making errors more visible when they occur so their effects can be intercepted.
  2. Having remedies at hand to rescue patients.
  3. Making errors less frequent by following principles that take human limitations into account.

Using the airline analogy, Dr. Makary said,  When a plane crashes, we don’t say this is confidential proprietary information the airline company owns. We consider this part of public safety. Hospitals should be held to the same standards.

In the conclusion of the CBS News article, Dr. Makary sums up the issue by pointing out, we’ve spent a tremendous effort tracking cancer, by state, by subtype, and we report all that to our national cancer registry. But we don’t do any of that for people who die of medical error gone wrong.

If you or anyone you know could benefit from a better functioning nervous system, please call us at 512-452-2525 to schedule a consultation with Dr. Swanson.


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