Posted September 02 2006 - 03:13 AM
| Originally Posted by Janie111 |
HP, I assume that you are a doctor when you say 'medical professional'. If I'm wrong, please correct me. In my experience, most doctors are rather rigid and conservative which is why I see alternative practitioners like an acupuncturist and a chiropractor.
I THINK I know where you are coming from with this post. But, would you spell out for me what you see as the downside of modern medicine with all of its scientific advances? And, our increase in life span?
Sure Janie. I’d be happy to do so.
Firstly, yes, I am an M.D. I have one specialty and 2 sub-specialties. (This means I did residency training beyond medical school in these 3 areas.) Where modern medicine has made the greatest strides is in the treatment of infections and trauma. (Since infections used to be the prime cause of death, I believe that Fleming’s discovery of Penicillin was the greatest single life-saver of the 20th century.)
Where we have failed rather miserably is in the treatment of chronic diseases such as arthritis, chronic fatigue, depression etc. The vast majority of what primary care doctors treat are chronic diseases. I believe that you, personally, are better off with your acupuncturist and chiropractor for the majority of commonly seen ailments, unless you happen to have an M.D. in your area who has been trained in Integrative Medicine.
Many Americans have become disillusioned with ‘traditional’ medicine and turn to alternative remedies more and more. According to a NEJM study, close to 50% of Americans now use some type of natural remedy each year.
Let’s look at the leading causes of death. They are heart disease, cancer and stroke. Heart disease causes around 750,000 deaths annually, cancer causes roughly 550,000 deaths annually and stroke causes 170,000 deaths annually. Now, let’s look at some little-known, fascinating data. (This data has been published in conservative medical journals such as JAMA, by the way.)
Up to 137,000 people die annually due to ‘properly prescribed prescription drugs’. Drug reactions and drug side effects etc. are responsible for those deaths. (Note the use of the term, ‘side-effect’. What we have been trained to call a side-effect is actually a direct effect of the drug but one that is undesirable.) Vioxx is just the tip of the iceberg, by the, as far as abuse and callousness by the pharmaceutical industry in releasing and continuing to market drugs known by them to be harmful. You’ve no idea how brutal the facts are. In fact, the former editor of the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine resigned her post to write an expose concerning the drug companies.
Approximately 195,000 people die each year as a result of ‘hospital errors’. This data came from the years 2000-2002. Next, consider that 100,000 patients die annually due to hospital-acquired infections. Add these 3 figures up and you will see that, despite its advances, medicine is related to 430,000 deaths each year, give or take. This makes it the 3rd leading cause of death in the US.
About our increase in life expectancy. In 1900 it was 50. By the end of the century it was 75 or 76. These gains were due largely to the eradication and control of numerous infectious diseases and to non-sustainable advances in agricultural technology such as chemical fertilizers. Basic life expectancy numbers exaggerate this growth, however. The low level of pre-modern life expectancy is distorted by the extremely high infant and childhood mortality of that era. (Some figures suggest that in 1900 nearly 50% of children died from infectious diseases before age 10) Improvements in medicine, public health, and nutrition have increased the numbers of people living beyond childhood, with less effect on overall average lifespan.
There is much more to be said. I teach a course that goes into all this thoroughly. But, I don’t want to hog the board. I've not even touched on the 'quality of life' debate or the huge amount of health dollars spent on just the last 6 months of life or that, despite the USA being ranked by WHO in the year 2000 as the #1 spender of healthcare dollars we were ranked #37 in the world in 'quality of healthcare delivery'.
So, despite my being a primary healthcare provider, I recognize the problems that we face and the limitations of a traditional approach. I greatly favor the growing use of Integrative Medicine.
Best Regards and welcome to the board Janie,