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Dietary Supplements Send 23,000 To The Hospital Each Year

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REALLY?  What a headline!  I use dietary supplements and only go to the hospital to visit people who don’t!  Look, as we age, we’re going to swallow pills, either “health pills” or “sick pills” and I opt for the former.   The headline is enough to scare some people away from their supplements, but not me.  I see this comical headline as a “smoke screen” that might be being used to divert your attention from the real reasons hospitals are visited.  Here is a publication that is both relevant to this alarming headline and it is factual.  The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) reports that over 770,000 people are injured or die each year in hospitals from “adverse drug events,” or ADE’s.  Did you notice the “slight of hand” in this report also?  These are all hospitalized patients, who were injured or died in a hospital.  What about those who are injured or die after taking their prescription drugs without a hospital involved; a doctor’s office, for example?  Why wasn’t that reported?  So the real number of people who are injured or die while taking prescriptive medications is likely significantly higher than is being reported.

I believe that this headline seeks to strike fear in the minds of dietary supplement takers, while offering a false sense of security to medication takers (you’re not the only ones that have to worry!).  In addition to the above AHRQ reference, the authors somehow neglected to publish two facts that are also relevant to their work and more importantly to you and me:

In America, there are 70,000,000 hospitalizations annually, so that 23,000 doesn’t sound so bad now, does it?  But that number isn’t reported truthfully in the article.

The whole headline is inaccurate and it was meant to be.  According to this article, 23,000 supplement takers got sick (perhaps a sore throat?) and went to an emergency room.  Thousands of non-hospital “emergency rooms” have opened their doors in America within the past 15 years.  The fact is, only 2,154, or 9% of those who felt bad after taking a supplement and went to an emergency room, ended up in a hospital.  An honest headline, therefore would have read, “Dietary Supplements Send 2,154 to The Hospital Each Year.”  Are you yawning yet?   60 billion supplements are swallowed each year and 2,154 people end up in a hospital?  Such honesty in reporting, however, simply would not have accomplished what the authors did accomplish by fear mongering.

When headlines against safe and natural substances shock you, the writers have done their jobs.  Now, you must do yours by carefully analyzing their deceptive ways.   Manipulating statistics is commonplace, so be careful and know that an educated medical consumer, while not well accepted in medical settings, is a safe medical consumer.  Time for my supplements!



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