I have recently been delving into the murky waters of Iatrogenesis.
Iatrogenesis as you may [or may not] know is any consequence of medical treatment or advice to a patient.
The waters are indeed rather muddy as presumably the medical profession and Big Pharma aren't too proud of the facts, so figures are not that easy to come by. The problem is not in finding figures [there are dozens/hundreds of sites out there all to happy to throw numbers around] but in finding accurate figures.
Just out of interest, I thought I would compare the number of Iatrogenic deaths with the number of deaths attributed to smoking. I took two sites – One was a study entitled "Death by medicine" and the other site was our friends in the Centers for Disease Control.
According to the CDC, the number of deaths attributed to cigarettes is around 480,000. This figure includes apparently 40,000 who died from second hand smoke. As second hand smoke never killed anyone I think we can safely subtract this figure. They also for some reason throw in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome [actual cause unknown], Influenza [a virus], Tuberculosis [a bacterial infection] and Pneumonia [caused by bacterial or viral infection]. Seeing as none of the viruses or bacteria that I know are smokers, I'm not quite sure why they included these. We can also safely assume that a very high percentage of those deaths are attributed to smoking, where the person actually would have died anyway through sheer misfortune or genetic cause. However, I will be extremely generous and allow them a figure of 400,000 deaths per annum from smoking.
Now we come to Iatrogenic deaths. These deaths are actual deaths with known cataloged causes, and are not some airy fairy figures plucked out of the ether. The figure given is 783,936. Wow! And that is a conservative figure.
So here we have the Tobacco Industry which is accused of all sorts of mass murder [the only industry which kills half its customers blah blah] and is so evil that anyone who has ever had anything to do with it is tarred with the same brush, possibly kills 400,000 a year while our so called "health system" kills twice as many.
Tobacco is the world's biggest preventable killer?