Monday, October 20, 2008

Beware the Killer Docs

This story is profoundly misleading. In listing the causes of death in the UK, it misses out one of the biggest killers - iatrogenesis. In America doctors have been established as the third leading cause of death. Of course, you can cook the figures to conceal this by saying the cause of death was the condition that was being treated rather than the treatment. British medicine may not be quite as lethal as the American system tends to lead to massive over-treatment. Nevertheless it is probable that iatrogenesis is almost as big a killer of Brits as it is of Americans. But, typically, we will conceal this fact. Be warned: like banks, hospitals aren't quite what they seem.
On the other hand, it's good to know they're being told to be not quite so keen to pronounce their victims dead.


  1. It would be interesting to know whether repeatedly making and then cancelling appointments for check-ups and tests has a placebo effect on this.

  2. Lol, hospitals exist to kill you. Yes, I'd guess most of us know of a relative or two who was killed off by a bungling doctor. And in an age when we are increasingly treated as passive "clients" or victims, it is that much harder to summon up the courage to challenge medical advice or find another doctor if you think your present one is just a salesman for Big Pharma.

    However, one would expect increased use of the internet to reduce iatrogenesis. Someone with a serious condition can now find out a huge amount about it and can compare notes, treatments, etc. with a great number of others all over the world. Either was pretty well impossible even twenty years ago. So we are in a better position to challenge the medical monopoly these days, though it's up to us to use that knowledge.

  3. So do NHS waiting lists actually increase the nation's life expectancy?

    (PS - Mark. Hmmm, maybe. But you should never ever ever Google your symptoms. That way madness lies.)

  4. Our local practice sends us, unsolicited, a "fact" sheet giving us, based upon our medical records, the odds for or against reaching old age, telling them that we are not interested and would they kindly stick their statistics up their backsides has no effect, the system is rolling, no can stopee.
    The NHS is the worlds premier organization for the production of life threatening, hospital based, bugs.

  5. I find the phrase 'no can stopee' curiously consoling.

  6. As a humble cog in the NHS i'd like to defend it by adding that Occupational Therapists often have great figures and Speech Therapists tend to be historians. i suggest you drop this NHS pessimism and realise hospitals are not here to do anything about illness but are rather grotesque Gormenghast-like labryinths where the Occupational Therapists are almost all sexy dames in green trousers, Speech Therapists know a lot about Cumbrian peasantry, and typists are usually homicidal maniacs. Hospitals are not here to cure you; hospitals are here to provide you with free amusement - just wander the corridors for hours, as i do, observing the varieties of female beauty and human suffering, the cripples, the maimed, the dying, the dead, the Last Rites priest in his sobriety, the pretty lady doctors, the 7' tall porters, the huge piglike nurses, tusks and all, the scent of human death and medicine - it is one of life's great experiences!