guns-doctors email question

I go this is my inbox today…any way to verify the truthfullness (or lack thereof) of the stats?

>>Some Startling Statistics:
>>Number of physicians in the US = 700,000
>>Accidental deaths caused by physicians per year = 120,000
>>Accidental deaths per physician = 0.171
>>(US Dept. of Health & Human Services)
>>Number of gun owners in the US = 80,000,000
>>Number of accidental gun deaths per year (all age groups) = 1,500
>>Accidental deaths per gun owner = 0.0000188
>>(US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms)
>>Therefore, doctors are approximately 9,000 times more
>>dangerous than gun owners.
>>Taken from the Benton County News Tribune on the 17TH of November, 1999.

One of the first things you learn when you take a college-level Statistics class is that “you can prove anything you want to, with statistics.”

How are they defining “Accidental deaths caused by physicians”? I’d think that if there was something like that going on, it would count as an epidemic and we’d be hearing Peter Jennings telling us all about it.

US Dept. of Health & Human Services

Don’t see any relevant statistics off-hand.

Even if the “accidental deaths by doctors” number is true, it’s not the same thing. You cannot compare the two - it’s a non-sequiter, IMO. FTR, I have heard the “120,000” given out as truth in KU Med School, but neither I nor the SO know the source.

Although most of my views would put me strongly in the Gore camp, on the Second Amendment I am immovable. I believe that law-abiding citizens have the right to own firearms.

But I have to comment on the statistics. While the numbers may be accurate, what do they mean? If a doctor took no action and the patient would have died, and the doctor happens then to take the wrong action, was the death “caused” by the physician? IMO, people tend to go to doctors when there’s something already wrong. Therefore, though amusing, the comparison is not really valid.

See what I get for taking a break in the middle of posting to do some work? Anthracite beats me to the punch! :wink:

Anthracite’s correct. (This time. :slight_smile: )
Every doctor, MD anyway, uses his skills on people.
What would happen to these stats if the same were true of all gun owners?
Meaningless gibberish, I say.

Um, there’d be a lot more deaths by guns??



That was supposed to be my point, Arjuna34. That these statistics are meaningless.
What, did I leave something out again? :confused:

It is the non accidental uses of guns that cause people to want to ban them.

But it is still a good statistic. In that it is a good illustration of risk management. There is a lot more potential benefit in reducing medical mistakes than reducing accidental gunshots. Though they don’t show it the medical mistakes probably out number the non accidentail guns shot fatalities.

I read somewhere that the odds of dieing as a result of a car accident are 1 in 88 for people in the US. Assuming that every body live 75 years there is a 1 in 33 chance of dieing as a result of a medical mistake. Wow!!! I will have to think about the math and see if I did something wrong.

“There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.”–Mark Twain :smiley:

Medicine is dangerous business. (not as dangerous as NOT seeing you doctor though)

No idea what the difference between the morbidity and mortality is.

For an approximation of breakdown by cause see

In answer to the OP, whoever wrote this is using somewhat misleading statistical methods. That is they are comparing apples and oranges. They could, for example, compare deaths due to physician error to the number of people seeking medical care. The ratio would be drastically different.

Equally important, the stats fail to distinguish between necessary risks and unnecessary risks. If one weighs the benefits provided by visiting MDs on a regular basis to the costs, it is a dramatically different picture than gun benefits v. gun costs.

In short, those stats are not real compelling, in terms of a public policy decision.

For real cool stats and stuff see: (couldn’t find any help on this issue though)

2,337,000 people or so died in 1998 in the U.S.
** >>Accidental deaths caused by physicians per year**
This is an oxymoron. Accidental death is called “accidental” exactly because it is not caused by anyone. If death is self inflicted, it is called “suicide”. If it is caused by another person, it is caused “homicide”. In some jurisdictions, “untoward medical complication” is used, in extremely rare cases (incompatible blood transfusion due to clerical error), as a cause of death.
A smartass layer may bring and even win a malpractice suit. That does not mean that a doctor’s deliberate actions or lack thereof caused patient’s death. If 1/10 of the claimed amount were true, malpractice lawyers in this country could consider their task accomplished.


What I’m having a problem understanding is why ppl are comparing a piece of machinery which is controlled by a person to a person who is using their knowledge and experience to help people. In Rural South Australia, we are having a bit of a problem with lack of health funding and the availability of staff. Sooner or later, unless the Government does something, many “mistakes” will be made simply because staff are being burnt out.

I’ll leave it at the b4 I get too far off the track…