Problems with Our Health Care System

Given the enormous amount of money that is spent on our health care system and the research that has gone into the various diseases we would be excused if we think that there should be able to trust our health care system to deliver quality health care. Sadly, our Western health care system falls well short of what is desired. Instead of healing and health it largely delivers suffering and further disease. Mendelssohn as far back as 1979 (and he wasn’t the first to suggest it) considers that the public has been ‘conned’ about the benefits delivered by ‘scientific medicine’. There is a great deal of myth that surrounds our current system.

A part of the myth is that medical practice has produced an overall increase in health in the past one hundred years. However, historical analysis has found that general improvements in social and environmental conditions provide a more adequate explanation of the changes than the rise of ‘scientific medicine’. Factors such as the improvement in diet and nutrition, sanitation and improved general living conditions have made the greatest difference.

Hospitals are deadly. Mistakes/errors, accidents, infections, medical drug disasters, diagnostic equipment including; X-rays, ultrasounds and mammograms make hospitals very dangerous. Hard technology has taken over the central role in modern medicine as it is considered effective and efficient. This has however been questioned. It is considered uneconomic and it also causes an unnecessary amount of pain and suffering. Accidents in hospitals now occur more frequently than in any other industry except mining and high rise construction. In addition to this are the medical doctor caused diseases. They are so common that they have their own name – iatrogenesis. Again the general public is unaware of how common this disease is. All told, iatrogenesis accounts for 784,000 deaths each year in the United States – more American deaths than all the wars of the 20th century combined. 98,000 deaths a year are caused by medical errors alone, and surgical errors account for another 32,000 deaths. These figures include only deaths. Officials admit that medical errors are reported in official data only 5 percent of the time, so the problem is much greater – exactly how much greater, no one really knows.

Research carried out in Australia showed that the equivalent of a jumbo jet load of people died unnecessarily died each week in Australia because of medical interventions – this information was contained in an official Health Department report. It was substantially hushed up – because of the potential impact of the information on the general public! We talk about and work to reduce road accidents and we ‘ground’ airplanes that are shown to have faults – but the general public is generally unaware of the risks that they take when they come under the care of the medical health care system.

Apart from accidents and medical mistakes adverse drug reactions and infections account for many of the incidences of iatrogenesis. Adverse drug reactions are very common. Some of these reactions can be minor but they can also be deadly. There are five main groups into which these adverse reactions can be placed. Those that:

adversely affect the blood cells,
cause toxicity in the liver,
damage the kidneys,
affect the skin, and
affect the unborn baby.

The hazardous side effects listed here do not include allergic reactions or medication errors, but rather the effects of the drugs themselves. Out of the 2.2 million cases of serious adverse reactions to drugs each year, authorities have listed four types of drugs as being the worst offenders for adverse reactions. These are antibiotics (17%), cardiovascular drugs (17%), chemotherapy drugs (15%), analgesics/anti-inflammatory drugs (15%). 198 drugs were approved by the FDA from1976 through 1985 and over 50 percent had serious post-approval reactions. Many adverse reactions were discovered during clinical trials and were covered up by pharmaceutical manufacturers in order to get FDA approval. The FDA is also far from blame free when it comes to giving approval for drugs that have serious reactions. The whole drug approval process has many problems and cannot be relied upon to protect the public from dangerous drugs.

Antibiotics are no longer working on many extremely dangerous bacteria or they only work in doses that that cause serious side effects. The development of these antibiotic resistant ‘superbugs’ is in the order of a crisis. In the years following the introduction of antibiotics they were (and still are) used for the treatment of common colds and flu and other complaints. Antibiotics, such as tetracycline were used (and still are) over long periods of time for the treatment of acne. Ampicillin and bactrim were used for the wrong reasons and there has been a reliance on antibiotics to treat recurrent bladder infections, chronic ear infections, chronic sinusitis, chronic bronchitis and non-bacterial sore throats. The UK office of health Economics in 1997 (cited in Chaitow) reported the following statistics:

· 5,000 people are being killed every year (in UK hospitals alone) by infections that they caught in hospital.

· A further 15,000 deaths are being contributed to by the infections that they caught in hospital.

· One in 16 patients who goes to hospital for anything will develop a ‘hospital acquired infection’.

· Many of the infections acquired involve the difficult to treat ‘superbugs’.

· USA figures published more than a decade ago show that 1 in 10 patients develops an infection that they caught in hospital – this involves around 2.5 million people every year.

· Every year 20,000 of these people die from their infections and the deaths of a further 60,000 are contributed to by the hospital acquired infection – a large number of these involve antibiotic resistant ‘superbugs’.

The current approach of our health care system is ineffective and can potentially cause more harm and damage than the original condition. Although undoubtedly many lives have been saved by timely medical intervention much medical intervention is unnecessary and alternatives, which don’t cause the same devastation, are available. Everyone needs to consider the way they interact with the medical system. Try to avoid the health care system if you can and certainly question your medical practitioner very carefully about any intervention they wish to make. Many will not like this questioning and just want to be seen as the ‘all knowing, all wise doctor’ – but this they are not! Do not be conned and do not buy into myths about the medical profession and health care.

Having said this it is important that if you are currently taking medication that you don’t suddenly stop. Seek information, discover alternatives and discuss changing you approach to health care with a health professional. If your current medical practitioner is uninformed about alternatives (as many are) or unwilling to discuss these with you (as many are) then you may need to seek a different health professional who is prepared to help you improve your health rather than just use medical drug prescriptions or surgery!

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How to Become a Health Inspector

A health inspector is a person charged with the duty of checking restaurants and ascertaining that they operate in safe and hygienic conditions. In addition, they also inspect housing units plus such environments that serve the general public as nursing homes and swimming pools. Their aim is to ensure that health and safety codes are adhered to. Numerous individuals may want to become health inspectors but may not know how to go about it. There are a few easy to follow steps on how to become a health inspector.

For one to become a health inspector, they have to have the interests. The first step involves an individual conducting online research with an aim of selecting institutions offering health inspection related training programs. Only programs with accredited services should be chosen. Individuals should ascertain just how much time it takes to complete the program. Some health inspection programs award candidate’s certificates while others award degrees upon completion. Individuals should only select program that are in line with their needs.

While making the all important decision of what program they should settle for they should understand that a degree in health inspection opens up more opportunities than a certificate. Once the appropriate program has been selected, the individual may then enroll into an institution. However, it is also possible for individuals to enroll for an online program. To qualify as a health inspector, individuals have to train for between one and six years. This depends on the education level an individual wants to achieve. Accordingly, it takes much longer to qualify for a degree than it does for a certificate.

Upon graduation, it is important that individuals take the time to intern at their local public health department. Through internship, individuals gain the necessary practical knowledge plus experience in the health inspectorate field. Once an individual is through with internship, they should then seek professional accreditation. This demands that they review such accreditation institutions as Board of Certified Safety Professional (BCSP). To become Certified Safety Professionals (CSP) and be awarded a certificate, individuals are required to takes and pass an accreditation test. To increase their marketability, individuals should strive to be accredited by as many institutions as is possible.

A health inspector is required to interact with and interview numerous people. More over, they are required to provide reports on the findings. Accordingly, good communication and people skills come especially handy. Nevertheless, even with adequate training, individuals should be well prepared for on the job challenges.

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Time to Take Responsibility For Your Own Health

Here is the bottom line. Health is full of vested interest and information can be easily selected to support a particular view. We need to be questioning of the pronouncements of governments and experts. They do not always know what is best for your health even if they are well meaning.

The person primarily responsible for your health is you. You are best placed to make decisions about your health based on your own circumstances. There has been a tendency over the last 30 years to see governments as having the primary responsibility for our health. This is seen in calls for the government to “do something” about problems like obesity and smoking to name but two.

Personally I do not have a huge amount of faith in the recommendations of government departments and some of the “experts” that they draw on. Regular readers will be familiar with my view on the response to the advent of the H1N1 (swine flu) virus and how billions of dollars were wasted and needless fear was generated. As it turned out many of the experts recommending mass vaccination of the population had financial ties to manufacturers.

There is now a push to vaccinate boys against the H.P.V. virus. This vaccine has been approved for use in girls. Whilst it has been promoted as a vaccine against cervical cancer, it is in reality a vaccine against four strains of a virus, which is implicated in the development of cervical cancer. The push for extending the use has come from the manufacturer (as is their commercial right) but it is easy to whip up fear when one plays the cancer card in any health story. At this point rational assessment can go out the window.

Against this backdrop two circulars from government health departments crossed my desk in the same week. The first from the W.A. health department was about a plan to get women who missed their third dose of H.P.V. vaccine to have it. The dosage schedule was zero, two and six months.

This is from the circular ” While the optimal schedule is to administer Gardasil * at 0,2 and 6 months, the Australian Chief Medical Officer has stated that delayed administration especially of the third dose is expected to give at least comparable and most likely superior immune responses…”

Run that by me again! If delaying the dose gives a better response then how can the current schedule be optimal? Or if the current schedule is optimal then how cannot sticking to it give a better result? Go figure!

The other interesting piece of advice came from the Federal Health Department. A new campaign has been launched to encourage smokers to quit. Readers of my website will have seen my article on how a major analysis of over 800 studies showed that 70% of people quit with no aids or assistance. It also highlighted that most studies compared stop smoking aids with each other rather than against no aid and that manufacturers funded many of the studies. Questions were raised as to why this information was not promoted more widely to encourage and empower people to stop smoking.

Yet the letter from the Chief Medical Officer tells me “… smokers are about twice as likely to quit with smoking cessation drugs than cold turkey alone” and quoted one study, which had shown this. So here we have the government urging use of drugs when for at least 70% of people none are needed.

Exactly why this is the case is a mystery to me. The key point is that government recommendations may or may not be in your best interests.

Gather input from a variety of sources. Be aware that vested interests may be involved. Be questioning of “experts” and always consider your own circumstances. The person best equipped to make decisions about your health and that of your family is YOU.

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