Note: This editorial was first written in 2012 before being updated and republished in January 2022.
The article originally referenced the nationwide number of medical deaths by medical error per year as 225,000.
As of 2017, that number reportedly increased to 251,000.
It may actually have reached over 440,000 according to a 2013 study.
Is it time for a new approach in the way we administer health and medical care for ourselves and others?
It always amazes me the blanket assumptions made and advanced by the media and medical industry about natural and holistic, non-invasive health practices.
The common narrative paints those who focus on and remain dedicated to a holistic healing worldview as “uncivilized” people that don’t take the most up-to-date science into account.
The unspoken judgment is that this mentality and focus is blatantly incorrect, inherently harmful to those who subscribe and others around them, and has allegedly been rendered obsolete by “modern” medicine; namely, surgery, drugs, and other invasive practices that carry with them a vastly higher risk of acutely dangerous outcomes or side effects.
What people don’t realize is that there’s no reason that the natural health approach — elevated by the wisdom and trial-and-error of thousands of years of human progress — as well as the current medical model that excels in emergency situations and acute distress — can’t work together to create a better situation overall.
But as we’ve seen lately, division, ostracization and finger-pointing have become commonplace, especially against those who consistently apply natural and holistic health principles on their own schedule rather instead of submitting to the medical industry’s rushed, one-size-fits-all blueprint for them.
Natural and Holistic Healing Methods Can Work When All Else Fails
My first exposure to natural healing agents as powerful medicine came while watching the news on one otherwise non-descript evening in my Metro Detroit childhood home.
I recall seeing a local news report of a woman whose son had a terrible rash all over his arm, and doctors were befuddled as to how they could possibly treat it.
They tried everything, prescribed all sorts of drugs, used chemical creams, ran tests, you name it.
Nothing worked, and the situation seemed hopeless.
But then one day, acting on advice from an older family member, the mother came home and spread raw organic honey all over the son’s arm.
Soon enough, the healing properties of the honey went to work and healed the rash right up — this natural medicine of Biblical proportions had accomplished the job where the “modern” approach had failed.
To me, this example highlights the enormous potential of natural and holistic healing methods, which can work outside of a system that typically refuses to acknowledge their potency, or to study and apply them in clinical settings, either on their own or in concert with other, similar methods.
American Medical Association stats on healthcare, errors and disease are frightening
Consider the following statistics from the American Medical Association that show just how problematic and downright dangerous the current system can potentially be, courtesy of an article posted on Facebook by natural health talk show host Robert Scott Bell.
Dr. Barbara Starfield, a top public health expert, published a dossier of findings on the medical system, errors and cases of harm in July 2000.
Her study, titled “Is U.S. health really the best in the world?,” was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. It came to a series of stark conclusions.
Her findings included the following numbers:
-106,000 deaths from FDA-approved attributed to correctly prescribed medicines
-80,000 deaths from infections acquired in hospitals
-12,000 deaths from unnecessary surgeries
-7,000 deaths from medication errors in hospitals
-20,000 deaths from other errors in hospitals
Of course, we all know that doctors, surgeons, nurses and other health professionals have jobs that are among the most high-pressure and most difficult in the entire world.
After all, human beings are spiritual, mental, emotional, familial, and social beings, and diet and exercise are just one small part of what makes up the whole human condition and roadmap to health.
Modern health professionals are hailed as heroes for good reason — they do everything they can to fix the problems we create by not consistently living our lives in the health-affirming ways mentioned above.
Many hospitals have stepped up to the plate by offering more green spaces, more less-invasive healing technologies, and even organic greenspaces and greenhouses, like this one in the Detroit area.
But it’s not enough, in my personal opinion.
Correctly Prescribed Drug Deaths, Surgery, and Demanding a Change
Something is clearly not right here, and the number that stands out the most to me is the 106,000 deaths from medication that is correctly prescribed figure that Starfield uncovered.
How many drug or surgical side effects and deaths could be prevented if doctors were well-trained in holistic care and able to heal chronic disease conditions at their roots instead of covering up the symptoms?
How many terrified patients could be soothed and primed to enter a healing state if we began using things like Rife machines and flotation tanks and sound healing and forest bathing and Earthing and meditation and guided meditation and Biomats and spagyric herbal tinctures and countless other technology and natural exposures that treat and re-align the organism as a whole on a deliberately patient, mindful and holistic-oriented level?
We won’t know until we stand up and create change on a personal level, or at least reconsider the prescribe-and-forget medical paradigm that has led to so many advancements, yet left such a clear and recognizable path of destruction at the same time.
We expect a lot of our health professionals and they work hard, doing an admirable job in most cases.
But it’s clear that this system has become thoroughly imbalanced, and will never reach its potential as long as our physicians, media institutions, educational institutions and similar players continue to deny that there are far more nuanced and safe ways to heal than the current model of medicine has shown us.
Thanks for reading!
P.S.S. Not everyone agrees that medical errors are actually the third leading cause of death in the United States.
Read a well thought out retort from the McGill Office for Science and Society by clicking here.