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Jerry Aragon Ph.D (Phunny humor Doctor)

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A Real HORROR Story For All Americans! (medical mistakes)
By Jerry Aragon Ph.D (Phunny humor Doctor)   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Friday, February 24, 2012
Posted: Tuesday, January 24, 2012

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LIGHTS; CAMERA; ACTION...This piece is similiar to a horror movie...ONLY WORSE! Everyone has a tiny part in this horror it affects every American in this country...(BOOK TITLE) TOP SCREWUPS DOCTORS MAKE AND HOW TO AVOID THEM (261 pages/review) This has been one of the scariest books I've ever read! At the age of 67 in 2012, my health care has been my top priority all my life...and, as I read many of the facts in this was alarming to me that such things like this can go on in the United States!!

 In 1980, I was 35 years of age, and I was around when the AIDS epidemic started, and I was startled and shocked to find out, that our own U.S. government, was a part of (cause/scandal) of the epidemic.  

BAD BLOOD (A cautionary tale/documentary)

What if your life-saving medicine, contained deadly viruses and the drug manufacturers; the U.S. governernment; and your doctor knew about it...but, failed to warn you?  Through the eyes of family members, BAD BLOOD...(a cautionary tale/documentary) chronicles how a miracle treatment for hemophilia became an agent of death for 10,000 Americans.  Faced with evidence that the pharmaceutical companies AND the government regulators, knew the product was contaminated with HIV and hepatitis, they launched a powerful fight, to right the system that failed them, and to make it safe for all.  (those wishing more information on this disgrace, can google 'Bad Blood' and you will find lots more info). 

All of this, has led to mistrust and loss of credibility of the medical profession (on my part), the pharmaceutical companies ('Big Pharma') and the disgrace of the U.S. government, as it 'looked the other way,' as all this was unfolding for many years!  (1980 to present)

*                            *                        * 

The VA is bigger than all of us...and it is said, that you get what you pay for, and, as a veteran, I spent about 18 years at the VA Medical Center to get my healthcare, and wishing for all that time, that I had to find a way out of the VA.  In 2007, I finally got my wish, and I left the VA and have been getting my healthcare in the private sector.  Why would a veteran leave the VA Medical Center, where everything is free...and go out in the private sector and pay for his healthcare himself?  There has to be good reasons! 

Briefly, the VA Medical Center is a training/teaching hospital (Albuquerque, New Mexico), and I've had my share of mistakes made on me over the years, and nobody in the VA has ever been accountable for anything!  Over the years, I have been hoping and praying I could find a way out...before I got murdered at the VA Medical Center...OR worse!  In 2007, I finally got my 'ticket to ride.' 

The U.S. Senators and U.S. Representatives are all 'puppets of the government,'  and after a four year fight with the VA Medical Center, I found out that the delegation of New Mexico, was worthless...and I could do better if I fought the VA myself, etc. 

I've always tried to maintain my health all my life, so
reading the following book, has not changed anything for me, but it made me more aware of what's happining in the medical field, and more mis-trustful of the medical field, and to try to deal with it. 

I wrote the following piece in December, 2010, more than a year before I bought and read this book;  

Opinion;  Medical People Are Less Trusted 

Health Report; When Medicines Make
You Sick

Prescription Drugs;  The # 4 Killer In America!

 Betrayal;  Who Can You Trust, Anymore?

"Soap and water and common sense, are the best disinfectants."  William Osler

Early detection, has always been a way of life with me.  I can't remember a year, when I didn't get a physical exam; blood tests and the necessary shots (flu shot, etc.) to stay in good health.

In this article, I provide a review or summary of this book, not in an alarmist way, but in a factual way, and I try to encourage the reader to be an advocate for themselves in the healthcare field, and to use early detection, as a means of reducing your doctor and/or hospital visits.  Simply stated...take care of yourself; follow your doctors instructions; if you have a problem with weight; smoking; drinking; or taking illegal drugs...wake up and smell the coffee. 

Knowledge is power!  The more I know what's going on with my healthcare, the better decisions I can make.  I provide a summary of this book...not in an alarmist way, but in a factual way, to raise awareness to the reader of some of the things that happen in healthcare that can be quite alarming.  Everything in this article, is quoted from the book, which was written by Joe Graedon, MS; and his wife Teresa Graedon, Ph.D of the Peoples Pharmacy

"The worst thing about medicines, is that one kind makes another necessary."  Elbert Hubbard

Every entry is quoted from the book, and occasionally, I will add my two-cents, as my comment or opinion/experience in the matter being discussed, etc. 

"Patients are not stupid!  They often know when something bad has happened, whether the error is officially disclosed or not. 

In one study, more than 600 patients were surveyed after their hospital discharge, and they reported that they experienced a total of 845 adverse events, which were verified by the researches.  Unfortunately, only 40% of these problems were disclosed to the patients at the time.  If the providers thought was less obvious to the patient, they were much less likely to reveal it.  Interestingly, patients who said the mistakes had been discussed with them, gave a higher rating of the quality of their care." 

"Poisons and medicines are oftentimes, the same substance given with different intents."  Peter Latheny

 "The death toll from health care screwups, adds up to at least 500,000 Americans annually.  If our calculations are correct, cause of death in the United States, right after heart disease (616,067) and cancer (562,875) and way ahead of strokes, the next killer (135,952).  But, to figure out, how many people die each year because of the misdiagnosis; medication mistakes; preventable infections; oversights; suboptimal treatment and just plain mess-ups, we need to consider a range of statistics, and there is no one place to go for such data." 

"Never go to a doctor, whose office plants have died."  Erma Bombeck

 "No one likes to admit he's made a mistake.  And, it's only natural to remain silent if we screw up.  The old adage 'see no evil; hear no evil; and speak no evil is employed far too often.  If we get caught, the inclination is to deny, rationalize or refute.

Doctors, nurses and pharmacists are just like the rest of us.  The inclination to 'look the other way,' if a colleague makes a mistake, or to remain silent in the face of our own error is human nature.  The only difference is that health providers are dealing with human life; the stakes are much higher, than if we bungle our checkbood balance and bounce a check. 

Doctors have an ethical obligation to report a colleague who puits patients at risk, but they don't always do so.  In one survey, one third those who knew of an impaired or incompetant colleague failed to repost him or her to the proper authority.  The code of silence exists in medical, as it does in law enforcement.  This perpetuates risky and unethical behavior. 

Physicians and other healthcare providers, are supposed to tell patients and families whenever a mistake is made, even if there is no long-term harm.  If someone is injured, or worse yet, killed...there is an absolute obligation to reveal the error.  How well do doctors do at coming clean when they blow it?  That's a tough question to answer! 

"One doctor makes work for another."  English proverb

Other adverse events occur when people catch nasty bugs while they are being treated for an unrelated problem.  As dangerous as hospitals can be when it comes to spreading deadly infection, they are not the only place where people are exposed.  Increasingly, surgery takes place in out patient ambulatory surgival centers.  According to the Ambulatory Surgery Center Association, three quarters of the operations, that take place each year are done in out patient settings.  People go there to get arthroscopic surgery on the knees; shoulders and other joints.  Procedures such as a colonoscopy; cataract surgery, etc.  An audit of the facilities showed, that many are not following basic infection control guidelines.  Two thirds of the centers, studied, had bad 'lapses in infection control' identified during the inspection. 

"The doctor is often more feared than the disease."  French proverb

Historically, there has been a culture of cover-up in medicine.  This 'wall of silence,' has been very effective at keeping mistakes secret.  Physicians may also be concerned that revealing so many missteps will result in public outrage.  As one expert noted,

"Reporting large numbers of adverse events and any serious preventable event brings intense scrutiny from regulators and the public.  Thus, most hospitals have relied on spontaneous reporting, which only identifies about 1 in 20 adverse reattions, and leads to the perception that injuries from ADR (adverse drug reactions), are less common than they really are."

Medical screwups can lead to pain and suffering, as well as death or disability.  According to the Food and Drug Administration, 1.3 million people are injured each year by medication mistakes.  We have heard from hundreds of people by mail and email and through comments on our website.  Many have experienced extreme pain and weakness from their cholesterol-lowering medicine.  Often, the discomfort gradually disapears once the medication is discontinued.  But, there are far too many situations that change people's lives permanantly. 

TREATMENT: Attributable (latrogenic) deaths:

- Fatal drug reactions (in hospitals); 106,000
- Fatal drug reactions (outpatients); 195,815
- Fatal drug reactions (nursing homes); 41,652
- Deaths related to misdiagnosis; 132,501
- Healthcare acquired infections in hospitals; at least 100,000
- Deaths from infectious diarrhea in nursing homes; 16,500
- Unnecessary surgery; 12,000
- Lethal blood clots in veins (deep vein thrombosis and pulmonary embolism); 119,000

Approximate number of iatrogenic deaths;

Pancreatitis Puzzle

"Several years ago, I developed severe stomach pains and vomiting shortly after arriving at work.  I went to the urgent care clinic, where a doctor told me it was probably severe acid-reflux, and sent me on my way with Prevacid.  A couple of hours later, the pain was much worse!

A friend took me to the trauma center of the same hospital, and I passed out before being seen.  After numerous tests, that took several days, the doctors determined that I had acute pancreatitis.  I also had undiagnosed severe Type 2 diabetes/blood glucose of 350 and hyperlipidemia (6,600).  My husband spent days fighting of the docs to convince them, that I was not an alcoholic.  Tests finally proved that, too.

While in the hospital, I developed a staph infection through a central line.  The pancreas became necrotic and required 12 surgeries, one every other day.  I was put into a coma to recover.  It took me six weeks of inpatient rehab before I could do the simplest of things."

Drug-Induced Cough

"I started taking lisinopril for high-blood pressure.  Soon, I developed a nagging dry cough that I couldn't shake.  I have thrown up because the coughing was so bad.  I have had blood tests and chest x-rays, that all came back negative.

In desparation, I went to an ENT (ear, nose and throat) specialist, who told me this kind of cough is common in people my age (50), due to post-nasal drip.  He knew I was on lisinopril, but he gave me an antihistamine and cough suppresant.  Of course, they didn't help. 

I learned, through your website, that lisinopril, can cause a cronic cough.  I am furious, that none of my doctors have warned me, or suggested changing this medicine." 

Medication Merry-Go-round

"First, I was put on Zorcor to control my cholesterol.  That caused restless leg syndrome (RLS), so I was prescribed Requip.  I then got depressed and was prescribed the anti-depressant Lexapro.  It made me into a zombie!  So, I was prescribed a low dose of Ritalin, a stimulant drug for ADHD (attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder)

I then, developed a mild heart arryhythmia (likely an effect of Ritalin), to control the heart rhythm.  I took the CCB for about three weeks, and felt so bad I wanted to commit suicide. 

When I tried to refill the Zorcor at the local pharmacy, and instead of through the mail order, the pharmacist told me he could not give me the CCB and a statin at the same time.  That did it for me!  I had been a zombie for far too long and I swore off all prescription medicines!  Without these pills, my mental fog lifted, and the terrible muscle spasms I had everywhere relaxed, and I no longer have RIS." 

Statins Complaints

"I'm nearly 60 years old, and in excellent overall health, with no history of heart disease.  Because my cholesterol was high on one blood test, my doctor immediately put me on Lipitor.  I wanted to try diet and exercise first, but she negated that idea.

Over the course of two years on Lipitor, I developed terrible pains in my wrists; legs; thumbs and feet.  Then my eyebrows and eyelashes and head hair began to fall out.  I also got increasingly 'spacey' and started forgetting words and names.  My doctor refused to accept that Lipitor could have caused any of this. 

This may sound arrogant, but I simply quit taking it.  My hair and eye-lashes have grown back, and all the muscle and joint-pain is gone!  My memory is also back to normal." 

Question from the People's Pharmacy (website);

Question:  My aging parents belong to a generation that never questions anything a doctor says.  They both take so many medications that they can barely keep tract of anything of them.  Here is a partial list; Amlodine; dicltfenae; parastatin, furosemide, atenolol, amiodarone, tamsulion. 

I think some of their dizziness; forgetfulness; lack of energy and coughing, are caused by their drugs, but they are afraid to question their doctor.  I would like to know, where to find a list of books you have written that might open their eyes to potential side effects and to more natural approaches to some of their medical approaches?

Answer;  Some of your parents prescriptions medications may, indeed, be contributing to the syntoms you mention.  Such drugs should never be stopped suddenly or without medical supervision.  You will find books in the library; the book store and online at


1) Overconfidence; Based on an analysis of available data, it's pretty clear that physician over-confidence is a major factor contributing to diagnostic disasters.  When a physician is overconfident about his diagnosis, he is less likely to be open to discussion with the patient.  Any questions may result in irritation or outright hostility.  Such reactions interfere with communication and patient-provided partnerships.   

2)  Information overload:  If you've ever had to clear away a stack of magazines you've been meaning to get to, but just couldn't keep up with, you may have an inkling of what your doctor faces.  There are thousands of medical journals spewing out the latest research in a never-ending tidal wave!  A busy clinician, who comes home exhausted, cannot possibly read all the medical journals in her area of expertise, there is no way to keep up.  Even if your doctor could read half of the relevant research in his field...remembering it all...especially at just the right moment, to help with a difficult impossible

3)  Going It Alone;  We once got caught in a riptide off the North Carolina Coast.  A powerful current kept carrying us out to sea, no matter how hard we tried to swim back toward the shore.  At some point in time, we realized we were losing the battle, and we yelled out for help.  Fortunately, two brave souls heard our cries and came to our rescue with their floats.  When we finally dragged our exhausted bodies onto the beach, we knew we had survived thanks to the help from others. 

Asking for help doesn't come easy for many physicians.  To get into medical school, you have to be a superb student and very competitive.  One doctor described such people as 'top guns.'  They are smart, bold, and driven.  They are not, necessarily, people who instinctively know how to work well with others.  Medical school and residency training don't usually teach team work or ego-free collaborative problem-solving.  When faced with a diagnostic dilemna, such people are likely to try to solve the puzzle themselves.  The trouble with this approach, however, is that if they get in over their heads...the patient may drown!

4)  Tunnel-vision;  In 'How Doctors Think,' Dr. Jerome Groopman, talks about something called anchoring, 'a shortcut' in thinking where a person doesn't consider multiple possibitities, but quickly and firmly latches onto a single one...sure that he has thrown his anchor down just where it needs to be.  You look at your map, but your mind plays tricks on you...conformation bias...because you see only landmarks you expect to see, and neglect those that should tell you, that in fact, you're still at sea.  Your skewed reading of the map, confirms, your mistaken assumption, that you have reached your distination. 

Whatever you want to call this thinking process...anchoring; tunnel-vision; premature disclosure; or jumping to can contribute to diagnostic screwups. 

5)  Time pressure;  One of the reasons that so many doctors end up jumping to conclusions, is a lack of time to stop and think clearly.  They're in a hurry all day long, dashing from one patient to another.  Visit just about every emergency room in the country, and you will see physicians and nurses trying to cope with an impossible workload.  This can lead to brusque, even rude behavior. 

The problem with the time pressure, is that it increases the risk of diagnostic errors.  Without an adequate amount of time to listen attentively to a patient tell her whole story, including seemingly irrelevant details, a busy clinitian may miss something important. 

6)  Missing test results:  A study published in the Archive of Internal Medicine, disclosed that one out of 14 patients with abnormal test results, never heard about them from their doctors.  Such stats are scary, but it gets worse!  In some practices, as many as one quarter of the patients, were not notified of their anomolous results when they should have been.  The authors concluded that such failures to inform are common. 

7)  Ignoring drug side-effects;  Just about every drug known to man, has the potential to cause some side effects in some people.  So, how does a doctor, who wants to do the best for his patient justify prescribing medicine that could cause heart attacks; strokes; life threatening liver failure; or kidney name a few drug-induced side effects? 

To cope with what has to be incredible cognitive dissonance, many physicians respond to the idea of drug side-effects by, first, minimizing their likelihood, and second, denying their very existence.  Patients reported that their doctors were for more likely to deny any connection between the prescribed drug and the problems, than to affirm possible connection. 

8)  Follow-up failure:  One of the reasons why doctors sometimes, don't realize how frequently their diagnosis miss the mark, is that they rarely get feed-back on how the story ends, etc.  Under normal circumstances, the emergency department doctor won't hear back from the physicians upstairs in the hospital.

Major league pitchers, get constant feedback from their coaches and so do quarterbacks.  In fact, no professional athlete can improve without constructive criticism, from experts  who analyze every aspect of his or her game. 

And yet, most phyiscians get little, if any, feedback about their diagnostic bloopers.  Without this kind of follow-up, it is very difficult to 1) be aware of diagonistic errors and two...improve their strategy in the future.  Our fragmented healthcare system makes this a challenge. 

9)  Harried hand-offs;  This is a biggie!  Transitions are an Achilles' heel of medicine, whether in a hospital or going from one doctor to another.  Think of airplanes for a moment.  When planes take off, it is monitored by the air traffic control tower of the departure airport.  But, once the plane leaves the range of the tower, it is handed of to the next control area in a very organized fashion.  This way, there is constant monortoring so that there are no collisions or other mishaps. 

When patients go from one doctor to another, there is no organized system for hand-off.  This is often true within the same hospital. 

10)  Communications break-down;  Whether during a hand-off or at some other time, communication failure cause problems.  When patients don't get to tell their whole story, important clues are missed.  When doctors don't communicate all revelant details to colleagues, the diagnosis and treatment can go horrible wrong! 

Analysis of malpractice claims shows that communications features contrubutes to other sourses of misdiagnosis.  They include an incomplete medical history; missing medical tests; or inadequate follow-up on tests. 


1) What are my primary concerns and symtoms?
2) How confident are you about my diagnosis?
3) What further tests might be helpful to improve your confidence?
4) Will the test(s) you are proposing change the treatment plan in any way?
5) Are there any findings or symtoms that don't fit your diagnosis or that contradict it?
6) What else could it be?
7) Can you facilitate a second opinion by providing me my medical records?
8) When should I expect to see my test results?  Will you call with them, or will they come by mail or electronical?
9) What resources can you recommend for me to learn more about my diagnosis?
10)  May I contact you by email, if my symptoms change or if I have an important question?  If so, what is your email address?

My Two-Cents (comments/opinions);

This information in this book, is not only startling that it even exists in America...but it's alarming and disturbing as well, etc.  I think the institution responsible for all this medical disgrace, is the worthless U.S. Congress, in which more safety regulations are needed for the medical industry.  The Congress MUST act...and make those in the medical industry accountable for their actions.  As long as the Congress 'looks the other way,' there will never be any reform or change in medical, and the people of America will always be at risk for injury, illness...and even death, etc.   

SITE MAP For Hopelessly Lost Souls;
Copyright; 2012; Jerry Aragon; The Humor Doctor




Web Site: humordoctormd

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