Dynamic Chiropractic – May 22, 1995, Vol. 13, Issue 11

Lest We Forget

By Donald M. Petersen Jr., BS, HCD(hc), FICC(h), Publisher
The information that has recently come forth regarding the number of iatrogenic deaths in the United States1 is only part of the story. While as many as 200,000 people die in hospitals every year from "medical mistakes,"2 health care is more than not being killed by your provider (or by the treatment they prescribe).

Over the past month, I have been plagued with a very persistent cold. While it would have put most people in bed, I was able to keep on working (and traveling). Some of the people who noticed my condition recommended everything from the latest cold pill to antibiotics. Some were surprised to hear that I didn't take such things.

When asked if I was going to see a doctor, my answer was, "Yes, I will be seeing my chiropractor this afternoon." All of this was a small, but significant assault on their belief system.

The prescription was the same as it was when I was a little boy. It was the reason why the members of my family very rarely missed a day of school or work. My father would give us constant adjustments to clear out any subluxations and fill us with vitamin C. It worked when I was four and it still works as I approach 40.

Not being a chiropractor is sometimes a hindrance. Fortunately, I'm the next best thing: a chiropractic patient.

Looking at health care from a patient point of view, the choices should be obvious. In the investment world, there is something called a "risk/reward ratio." This is a way of analyzing what the potential gains and losses are and what the likelihood is of the various potential outcomes.

Unfortunately, the world of health care isn't well enough understood by the consumers (health investors). For example, the risk of experiencing an "adverse drug event" in a hospital is 6.5 patients per 100 admissions;3 one percent of those died. This is before you include any treatment procedures.

What would happen if a patient received a "health care prospectus" prior to receiving any kind of care: something that would provide them will a full list of all of the potential negative outcomes and what the risk was of each. Then a patient could consider the full extent of the risk.

For example, can you imagine a patient realizing that there is a one percent chance of death, a two percent chance of kidney failure, etc. The research to establish this data is quickly coming to pass. In my view as a patient, the patient pamphlets published by the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR) don't go far enough. You only find out the real risk potential when you read through the full clinical guidelines that only a few clinicians will read.

When you consider the true risks (not to mention the lack of effectiveness inherent in most medical procedures), chiropractic care is the only choice. There is a dramatic difference between complimenting the human body's innate ability to heal itself and trying to cause a positive reaction using a foreign substance.

For me as a life-long chiropractic patient, natural health care through chiropractic is the only choice. As the facade of medicine fades and the public recognizes the dangers of drugs, people in your community will be looking for a safe alternative. Now more than ever, we need to tell the chiropractic story to every living person.


  1. Leappe LL. Error in medicine. JAMA 1994;272:1851-1857.


  2. Moore, T. Deadly Medicine, Simon & Schuster, 1995.


  3. Prevention of Drug-Related Complications, Harvard School of Public Health, September 22, 1992.

DMP Jr., BS, HCD(hc)
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