How Medical Ripoffs Threaten Your Health Security

By | March 6, 2013


Industry, by corrupting science has caused a double dose of harm. First, as the Mecola article below states, medical doctors are performing unnecessary and even harmful procedures. The other problem is a resulting lack of trust in science which opens the doors for people to spend money and time on alternative medicine which is also at times useless or harmful.

The next scientific revolution should be an ethical revolution, a purging of the filth of bias from funding. Lives depend on science somehow disengaging from corporate greed.

Can the peer review process be fixed? Require multiple independent confirmation before publication? Have scientific conflict of interest teams clean things up? But how do you keep industry influence out of those? Require each scientist to have a separate unrelated job to pay the bills?

The first step is to get everyone to acknowledge the problem, and to teach people to stick to their objective findings under pressure to produce the most profitable results. Dr. Mercola writes:

I have enormous respect for the scientific method, and I believe, when properly applied, it can provide us with profound and valid truths that can guide and direct our treatment strategies.

But what many people fail to appreciate is that much of the research published has been deeply influenced and severely tainted by tremendous conflicts of interest and profit-driven motives.

Shockingly, according to a British poll from last year, more than one in 10 scientists and doctors claimed to have witnessed colleagues deliberately fabricating data in order to get their research published.1

Needless to say, this kind of medical and scientific fraud has profound implications for patients. After all, published research is used to devise medical recommendations for patients across the country, if not the world.

Other hallmarks of the American health care system are gross overcharges, billing fraud, and the routine use of tests and treatments that have little or no benefit–or worse, do more harm than good.

Fraudulent Data May Have Led to Use of Risky Treatment in ICUs

One of the latest examples of scientific fraud endangering patients is that of a type of starch (hydroxyethyl), which is used intravenously to replace lost blood volume in critically ill patients. A recent report by MedicineNet.com2 reveals that this practice turns out to be based on studies "loaded with fraudulent data," and actually does more harm than good:

"’According to a new review article in the Feb. 20 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association,3 the starchy solution may instead boost their risk of death or kidney failure,’ the featured article says.

‘Almost certainly, what is happening is that some of the starch molecules leak out of blood vessels into the kidney itself so the kidney doesn’t work as efficiently,’ said Dr. David Taylor, chairman of pulmonary and critical care medicine at Ochsner Health System in New Orleans. He was not involved in the new review."

The issue was initially uncovered in 2011, when investigators discovered that a majority of the research conducted by Dr. Joachim Boldt, a German anesthesiologist, contained fraudulent data. Several of his studies were subsequently retracted. When Dr. Boldt's research was excluded from the pool of available research on the treatment, hydroxyethyl starch was found to be associated with an increased risk of death, kidney failure, and need for dialysis.

"Luckily for American patients, hydroxyethyl starch is not commonly used in the United States, Taylor said. But the new analysis serves as a cautionary tale on how fraudulent data can end up endangering patients’ lives."4

Medical Waste: 90 More Unnecessary Tests and Procedures Called Out

In related news, a second report has been issued by the Choosing Wisely campaign,5 sponsored by the Foundation of the American Board of Internal Medicine. The list was compiled by 17 specialty groups representing more than 350,000 doctors. Last year's report warned doctors against using 45 tests, procedures and treatments that either provide no benefit, or worse, do more harm than good. This year, another 90 tests and treatments were added to the list. As reported by NPR:6

"The idea is to curb unnecessary, wasteful and often harmful care, its sponsors say — not to ration care. As one foundation official pointed out last year, rationing is denial of care that patients need, while the Choosing Wisely campaign aims to reduce care that has no value."

Examples of care deemed to be of little or no benefit include the following. To learn more, I encourage you to browse through the Choosing Wisely web site,7 as they provide informative reports on a wide variety of medical specialties, tests, and procedures.

Using feeding tubes in patients with advanced dementia. Assisting such patients to take food by mouth is more advantageous to the patient EEGs on patients with recurring headaches. The test does not improve diagnosis or outcome, only increases cost
Routine annual PAP tests on women between the ages of 30-65. Once every three years is enough Leaving implantable defibrillator on when a patient with incurable disease has elected to forgo resuscitation
Using cough and cold medicine in children under the age of four suffering from respiratory illness. These medications offer little benefit, can have serious side effects and can lead to accidental overdose Repeat bone scans for osteoporosis more frequently than bi-annually. Healthy women over 67 with normal bone mass can go up to 10 years without repeat bone scan
Use of benzodiazepines such as Valium, sedatives, or sleep aids in older adults with insomnia, agitation or delirium. These drugs more than double risk of auto accidents, falls, hip fractures, and death Screening healthy individuals for cancer using CT or PET scans, as the likelihood of finding cancer with these means is only about one percent. The scans are likely to detect harmless growths, which lead to additional tests, biopsies and unnecessary surgeries
Inducing labor or performing a cesarean section for a baby who’s less than full termwithout medical cause. Labor induction and/or C-section can increase the risk of learning disabilities and respiratory problems Routine CT scans on children with minor head injuries. Simple observation is just as good, and spares the child from radiation-related health risks

American Pays the Most for Health Care But Gains the Least…

When you start to consider the volume of unnecessary drugs, tests, procedures, and surgeries conducted each and every day, the reason why Americans spend twice as much on health care per capita than any other nation on the planet, yet still rank dead last in terms of quality of care among industrialized countries becomes clearer.


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