Roots of Modern Medicine
Update: Since this article was written,
accidental medical deaths have reached 440,000 a year:
How Many Die From Medical Mistakes in U.S. Hospitals?
Deaths by medical mistakes hit records
Stunning News On Preventable Deaths In Hospitals
Keep this in mind as you read the article below. All the percentages of danger
below have risen dramatically.
or "sorcery" in the New Testament is from the Greek word "pharmakeia"; English
"pharmacy" - Healing through the use of drugs. [See etymonline.com and
dictionary.com.] Of Babylon it
was said: (Rev.18:23)... for with thy sorcery were all the
The physicians' Hippocratic Oath:
I swear by Apollo the Physician, and Asklepios and
Hygieia, and all the Gods and Goddesses that, according to my ability and
judgment, I will keep this oath and this syngraphe ('contract'): to
consider him who taught me this Art as dear to me as my parent, to share my
substance with him, and to relieve his necessities if required; to look upon his
offspring as equivalent to my own brothers, and to teach them this Art, if they
wish to learn it, without fee or stipulation; and that by precept, lecture, and
every other form of instruction, I will impart a knowledge of the Art to my own
sons, and those of my teachers, and to disciples bound by a stipulation and oath
according to the law of medicine, but to none others. I will follow that system
of regimen which, according to my ability and judgment, I consider for the
benefit of my patients and abstain from whatever is harmful and mischievous.
I will give no deadly medicine to anyone if asked, nor suggest any such
advice; likewise, I will not give a pessary to a woman to induce abortion.
I will live my life and practice my art with purity and holiness. I will not cut
persons suffering from 'the stone', but will leave this to be done by men who
are practitioners of this skill. Whatever houses I enter, I will enter for the
benefit of the sick, and will abstain from every voluntary act of mischief and
corruption, and especially from the seduction of females or males, of free
persons or slaves. Whatever I see or hear in connection with my professional
practice or not in the life of men, which should not be made public, I will not
divulge, considering that all such knowledge should remain secret. As long as I
continue to keep this Oath inviolate, may it be granted to me to enjoy life and
the practice of the Art, respected by all men, at all times. But if I should
trespass and violate this Oath, may the opposite be my lot.
Apollo in Greek Mythology
Apollo is in many respects the paradigm of a
Greek god. He represents order, harmony, and civilization in a way that most
other Olympian deities cannot quite equal. One only has to compare him with
Dionysos to understand how Apollo is depicted as a bright, rational
counterpart to the chaotic and frenzied god of wine and women. Indeed, Apollo is
most often associated with the cultivated arts of music and medicine, and his
role as the leader of the
Muses establishes him as a patron of intellectual pursuits.
"Destroy or excite"
(EDITOR'S NOTE: The angel of the
abyss is Apollyon, meaning destroyer.)
(EDITOR'S NOTE: Witchcraft or
Sorcery in the New Testament is from the Greek word Pharmakia; English
Pharmacy; Healing through the use of drugs. Of Babylon it was said,
(Rev.18:23)... for with thy sorcery were all the nations deceived.)
The son of
Leto, and the twin brother of
Artemis. Apollo was the god of music (principally the lyre, and he directed
the choir of the
Muses) and also of prophecy, colonization, medicine, archery (but not for
war or hunting), poetry, dance, intellectual inquiry and the carer of herds and
flocks. He was also a god of light, known as "Phoebus" (radiant or beaming, and
he was sometimes identified with
Helios the sun god). He was also the god of plague and was worshiped as
Smintheus (from sminthos, rat) and as Parnopius (from parnops;
grasshopper) and was known as the destroyer of rats and locust, and according to
Homer's Iliad, Apollo shot arrows of plague into the Greek camp. Apollo
being the god of religious healing would give those guilty of murder and other
immoral deeds a ritual purification. Sacred to Apollo are the swan (one legend
says that Apollo flew on the back of a swan to the land of the Hyperboreans, he
would spend the winter months among them), the wolf and the dolphin. His
attributes are the bow and arrows, on his head a laurel crown, and the cithara
(or lyre) and plectrum. But his most famous attribute is the tripod, the symbol
of his prophetic powers.
In Greek mythology,
Asklepios (Asclepius) was the god of healing. He was the son of the Olympian god
Apollo and a mortal woman named Coronis.
Asklepios (Roman Aesculapius)
The Hesiod places Aesculapius' origin in
Thessaly where he lived in a subterranean cleft with both a serpent and a hound
as companions. Born of the god Apollo and the mortal woman Coronis (a "former"
virgin of the Lapithae), Aesculapius was raised by the centaur Chiron, from whom
he learned the art of healing and became a physician.
(EDITOR'S NOTE: This healer God is an imitation of Jesus.
This god is supposedly born of an earthly mother and a god (Son of God) he
supposedly raised the dead etc. The physicians symbol, the serpent on a
rod, was an imitation of Moses serpent that was lifted up in the wilderness,
which pointed to Christ the healer. This god is clearly a false Christ.)
However, in the pride of
his powers, Aesculapius ventured to transgress the laws of nature and to bring
the dead back to life. Naturally, Pluto the lord of the underworld was none too
happy with this turn of events, and complained to Zeus that Hades was being
depopulated. So Zeus slew Aesculapius with a thunderbolt (sorry).
According to Greek
legend, patients seeking healing would sleep the night in the temple of
Aesculapius. During the night, Aesculapius would appear to the patient in a dream,
accompanied by his daughter, the goddess Hygieia, and by a serpent who followed
Aesculapius wherever he went. At that point, Aesculapius would treat the patient
in the dream, often by having the serpent lick his or her wounds. In the
morning, the patient would awaken healed.
As a result,
throughout history, the symbol of the physician has been, and continues to be,
the Staff of Aesculapius, a wooden staff with a SINGLE serpent entwined. Many
readers, however, are probably more familiar with the Caduceus, which is the
winged staff of Hermes, the messenger of the gods, with TWO intertwined
His followers established temples called
Asclepions, temples of Asklepios, temples of healing. The greatest asklepion was
in a grove of trees south of Corinth,
Greece where the sick had to spend a night while the proper remedies were
revealed during a dream to the priests of the temple and the cured had to make a
suitable sacrifice (usually a rooster) to the god.
According to mythology, Asculapius had a
number of children including Hygieia, the goddess of health (from whose name
comes the word "hygiene") and Panaceia, the goddess of healing (from whose name
comes the word "panacea" for a universal remedy).
Today, the staff of Aesculapius is a commonly
used symbol of medicine. It is the symbol of the American Medical Association
(AMA) and many other medical societies.
Greek god of healing. He was not a regular
member of the Olympian pantheon and his worship began seriously only with the
5th century, especially at his sanctuaries in Epidaurus and on
Cos. In art he appears as a
bearded man, with a staff and snake, often with his daughter Hygieia (Health)
Chiron taught Asclepius the art of healing. According to Pindar (Pythian Odes),
Asclepius also acquired the knowledge of surgery, the use of drugs, love potions
Humor.........or is it?
Think about this:
Statistically, doctors are approximately 9,000 times more dangerous than gun
a. The number of physicians in the US is
b. Accidental deaths caused by Physicians per year is 120,000.
c. Accidental deaths per physician is 0.171. (US Dept. of Health & Human Services)
Then think about this:
a. The number of gun owners in the US is
b. The number of accidental gun deaths per year (all age groups) is 1,500.
c. The number of accidental deaths per gun owner is .0000188.
Statistically, doctors are approximately 9,000 times more dangerous than gun
FACT: NOT EVERYONE HAS A GUN, BUT ALMOST EVERYONE HAS AT LEAST . . . ONE DOCTOR!
Please alert your friends to this alarming threat. We must ban doctors
before this gets out of hand! As a public health measure I have withheld
the statistics on lawyers for fear that the shock could cause people to
seek medical attention.
Man's Methods and God’s Glory
But God chose
the foolish things of the world, that he might put to shame them that are
wise; and God chose the weak things of the world, that he might put to
shame the things that are strong; and the base things of the world, and
the things that are despised, did God choose [yea] and the things that
are not, that he might bring to naught the things that are: that no flesh
should glory before God (1 Cor.1:27-29).
methods will always be considered foolish, weak, base, and despised by the world
and the worldly church. I inherited from my father a chronic weakness in nasal,
sinus, and inner ear infections. By the time I came to the Lord, my eardrums had
burst many times because of these infections. I dreaded this because it was very
painful. My hearing was impaired due to scars on my eardrums. Also, as did my
father, I carried nasal spray with me almost year-round to open up my sinuses.
This had destroyed the lining in my nose, which made the problem worse. Because
of this, I started using saltwater as a nasal spray, which did not work as well.
Penicillin became useless and vitamin C, too.
Shortly after I
came to the Lord I discovered that I did not have to seek healing any more
because 2,000 years ago I was healed by Jesus’ stripes. I threw my nasal
spray and my vitamin C away by faith. My nose and sinuses have not stopped
up since, even when I have had a cold. I have had no more burst eardrums,
either. This testimony has been given to many who also came to faith and were
healed. At the end of all of my works to save myself by man’s methods, God gave
me faith to see His works. God’s method was faith in Him combined with my own
weakness. He said, “[my] power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor.12:9).
Faith is foolish, weak, and base to the world but it brings God’s power.
Before I knew
the Lord, I applied for a job at Exxon. Their physical showed that I had hearing
loss from scarred eardrums and a non‑functional
heart murmur, which I had from childhood. They almost did not hire me. A few
years later after I discovered the Lord and His method, they called me in for
another physical. There was no sign of hearing loss or heart murmur. My poor
attendance record, caused by sickness, also made a complete turnaround. Worldly
methods failed me, but faith in the promises brought the most awesome
deliverance. Glory to God!
watched a report on antibacterial soaps on the national news. They reported that
the net effect was that they were not wiping out bacteria, but making them
resistant. What did penicillin do but make antibiotic‑resistant
bacteria for which there is no medical cure on the horizon? Poisons on the
crops, to try to destroy the curse, go into the water supply and cause a
multitude of diseases. Read your toothpaste tube; fluoride is a deadly poison.
The Journal of
the American Medical Association
Vol. 284, July 26, 2000, reported that doctors are the third leading cause of
death in the U.S., causing 250,000 deaths every year from iatrogenic causes!
Iatrogenic is defined as induced in a patient by a physician’s activity, manner,
or therapy, used especially of a complication of treatment. If this is what
their organization admits, what is the truth? The numbers are much higher. If,
as some believe, this is God’s preferred method of healing today, He is surely
making a lot of mistakes. I have a good doctor friend named John Farmer, who
prefers to not use drugs. He has told me how he prays for patients who will
believe, with results. The problem is that most are not interested in
deliverance from their curse if it takes repentance and faith so he does what he
My mother took
a drug for years. One day she was reading an article by
on the side‑effects of
medicines. The side‑effects
of the drug she was on were breast cancer and glaucoma, and she had them both.
That was a terrible trade. My father’s favorite doctor told him after an
examination, “One thing I am sure of, you are not going to die of a heart
attack. You have the heart of a much younger man.” About a month later, he had a
serious heart attack. I became convinced it was because of a drug he was taking
to put oxygen into his blood because he lost a lung to smoking. Two close
friends took a drug that had a side‑effect
of damaging their kidneys. Their doctors admitted this in both cases. Man shifts
the curse around and sometimes multiplies it, but he cannot deliver by his own
efforts. If he could, then Jesus’ death was for naught. I believe it is God’s
purpose that we understand that there is no permanent deliverance from the curse
except God’s deliverance through Jesus Christ. The world’s deliverance is a
deception, because, ultimately, their gods fail them. God wants us to see
We have been
told that God now uses modern methods for delivering us from the curse. God’s
method is always free. It is salvation by grace, which is the unmerited, unpaid
for, favor of God. Neither Jesus nor His disciples charged anything for healing,
deliverance, provision, or any other form of salvation. The world’s method
always cost. The poor often go untreated until they die. In God’s kingdom,
all are treated on condition of faith. God desires to use the same method He
used in the Scripture, the word of faith, because it is the only one that does
not give glory to man. If a Christian receives a recovery from some disease
while under the care of doctors and medicine, everyone wants to know what the
medicine was or who the doctor was. God will not share His glory with another. I
am not condemning those who use doctors or medicine. I offer the good news that
Jesus has already healed you almost 2,000 years ago. Reading the New Testament
once shows that God did not use the methods of man. In the coming wilderness we
will need to understand this.
people will not be able to buy or sell with the world. Then all will be forced
into a wilderness experience where there will be no idolatry with the gods of
this world. For the people of God in the wilderness there will be a great lack
of doctors, medicine, lawyers, bankers, psychiatrists, insurance, food, clean
water, and public assistance of all types. Then we will see God's power in man’s
weakness (2 Cor.12:9-10). The churches’ methods of obtaining provision today are
the same as the world’s methods and are therefore acceptable to it.
God has a
peculiar method for ministering deliverance from the curse that costs nothing,
gives no glory to man, and proves His sovereignty. (1 Cor.1:28) And the
base things of the world, and the things that are despised, did God choose,
[yea] and the things that are not, that he might bring to nought the things
that are: (29) that no flesh should glory before God.
We see here that God
chose to use something that does not exist in the physical realm in order to
destroy the things that do. The “things that
are the promises in the Word that we do not see fulfilled. The “things
that are” are the cursed things of sin, sickness, and lack, which God
wants to “bring to nought.” For example, if you are sick, that is
a thing that is; but “by whose stripes ye were healed” is a
thing that is not in the physical realm. God chose faith in His promises
“that are not” in order to bring to naught the sickness. Jesus and
the disciples used God’s method for dealing with the curse by calling
“the things that are not, as though they were” (Rom.4:17).
They just commanded it done according to the promises. They did not choose
“the things that are,” like doctors, medicine,
psychiatrists, banks, and such to “bring to naught the things that are,”
like sin, sickness, torment, lack, debt, etc. The things that appear in
this realm are the things that are and are all under the curse. (Heb.11:3)
By faith we understand that the worlds (Greek: ”ages”)
have been framed by the word of God, so that what is seen
hath not been made out of things which appear.
God’s method is
to use the Word and not the physical things that appear, just as in the Gospels
and Acts. In anointing with oil, it is obviously not the oil but the faith that
heals. Oil is just a symbol of the Holy Spirit. Paul’s handkerchief did not
heal; it was the power from his faith (Acts 19:12). Some might think that
once Jesus also used things such as when He made clay with His spit to heal
a blind man in John 9:6-7. It was not the clay that healed his eyes, but the
washing it out of his eyes; clay symbolizes the Adamic nature and the things
that are (Job 10:9; 33:6; Isa.29:16; 45:9) just as man was made
In other words,
our eyes must be cleansed of seeing through eyes of clay. We need the spiritual
eyes to see the promise as done by faith. (2 Pet.1:3) Seeing that
his divine power hath granted unto us all things that pertain unto life
“God’s life”) and godliness….To
have spiritual eyes, we must see that Jesus has already given us His life and
blessings. We need to be cleansed of fleshly eyes that keep us from God’s
blessings. … The natural man (of clay) receiveth
not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; and
he cannot know them, because they are spiritually judged (Greek:
“examined” or “seen”) (1 Cor.2:14). By the way, the spit from
Jesus’ mouth symbolizes that which comes out of the mouth of the Lord that gives
life to man, the Word or manna (Dt.8:3; Jn.1:1‑3;
I once knew a
preacher who said, “The reason Paul did all those miracles was because Luke the
physician was with him.” Wrong! Not in one verse do we see Luke using physician
skills, which could never result in a miracle. The Greek word
is falsely translated “physician”
but it just means “healer.”
is also used of Jesus as “healer.”
Translators put their modern ideas here. “Physician” means “one who practices
medicine,” which Jesus and the apostles never did. The term used for drugs or
medicine in the Greek is
(English: “pharmacy”) and is translated “witchcraft” or “sorcery,” which Paul
called a work of the flesh in Galatians 5:20. The nations are deceived with
(Rev.18:23). Luke was a healer in the same way Jesus and the other disciples
It should seem
strange to these people that Jesus and his disciples did not use “the things
that are” to administer healing or deliverance. If Paul's handkerchief had the
power to heal, why could it not heal before he touched it? It only acted as a
medium to carry the healing anointing to the sick by faith. I have prayed over
handkerchiefs, water, or people as mediums and seen healings. A brother,
whose wife was very sick, came into our meeting. He was very troubled and on the
edge of tears about this. The brother was not yet convinced that he needed to be
filled with the Holy Spirit. Asking the Lord in my thoughts what to do, it came
to me to pray over him to impart healing power to him, which we did. Then I
said, “Now brother, go lay hands on your wife, and she will be healed.” He was
not convinced that healing was our right today, but he went home to lay hands on
his wife. When he did, she was healed, and he came back excited. You see, it is
not the medium; it is the healing power manifested through it, or in this case
him, by faith. Jesus imparted authority to the disciples to heal before they
received the Holy Spirit.
So how do we
use God’s method of “the things that are not” ?
By calling “the things that are not, as though they were”
(Rom.4:17). In other words, agree with the promise and call it done. God
chooses to use “the things that are not, that he might bring to nought the
things that are: that no flesh should glory before God” (1 Cor.1:28-29).
God does not desire to use man’s inventions so that only He can brag.
God’s salvation is not by our works. It is by getting our eyes off the problem
and on the promise. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 teaches that our
affliction will be temporary if “we look not at the things which are seen,
but at the things which are not seen.” When the Israelites got their
eyes off the snake bite (curse) and on the serpent on the pole (Christ who
became our curse [Jn.3:14]), they were healed (Num.21:4‑9).
As we saw,
Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” had nothing to do with sickness but a demon that was
bringing him into humbling circumstances where he was weak to save himself so
God’s power was present to save him. His advice to Timothy puts a question in
some concerning the use of remedies. In the text we can see that sin is the
subject before and after the verse in question. (1 Tim. 5:22) Lay hands
hastily on no man, neither be partaker of other men’s sins: keep thyself pure.
(23) Be no longer a drinker of water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s
sake and thine often infirmities (Greek:
meaning “weaknesses”). (24) Some men's sins are evident, going before unto
judgment; and some men also they follow after. (25) In like manner also there
are good works that are evident; and such as are otherwise cannot be hid.
sometimes translated “infirmities” is actually “weaknesses” and is clearly seen
in other texts where the same word is correctly translated. (1 Cor.1:25)…The
weakness of God is stronger than men.
Now we know that God is not infirm or sick so this word has to be “weakness.”
(2 Cor.13:4) For he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth through the
power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him through
the power of God toward you. We know that Jesus Christ was not crucified
through infirmity, but weakness because He would not defend Himself when He was
brought before Pilate and the Jewish leaders. Timothy had spiritual weaknesses
for which the only cure was the spiritual wine of the nature of Jesus. The
stomach or belly was spiritually considered the seat of rulership for the carnal
man. It represented being driven by the lusts (Greek: “desires”) of the flesh,
driven by sin. (Php.3:19) Whose end is perdition, whose god is the belly,
and [whose] glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things. Peter
called those who returned to their sins, “the sow that had washed to
wallowing in the mire.”
The sow best identifies those who are servants to their flesh’s appetites.
On the other
hand, wine was considered the cure for bondage to sin. Wine represents the blood
of Jesus. (Mt.26:27) And he took a cup (of wine), and gave
thanks, and gave to them, saying, Drink ye all of it; (28) for this is my blood
of the covenant, which is poured out for many unto remission of sins. (29) But I
say unto you, I shall not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that
day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom. Through our own
blood we have inherited the lusts of the sinful flesh and through Jesus’ pure
blood that nature is destroyed. (Lev.17:11) For the life of the flesh is
in the blood; and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for
your souls: for it is the blood that maketh atonement by reason of the life.
His blood is in us to the extent that we repent and partake of the life of His
Word. (Jn.6:53) Jesus therefore said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto
you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood
(wine), ye have not life in yourselves. (54) He that eateth my flesh and
drinketh my blood hath eternal life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
Partaking of the blood or wine is a matter of walking in His Word by faith in
His blood that was given to us. (1 Jn.1:7) But if we walk in the light, as
he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus
his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
fruitful faith that resides in the true body of Christ is the answer to the
question of why Isaiah commanded a cake of figs for Hezekiah’s boil.
(Isa.38:21) Now Isaiah had said, Let them take a cake of figs, and lay it for a
plaster upon the boil, and he shall recover. The figs here represent the
Body of Christ or Israel as in Jesus’ warnings about bearing fruit.
(Lk.13:6)And he spake this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his
vineyard; and he came seeking fruit thereon, and found none. (7) And he said
unto the vinedresser, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig
tree, and find none: cut it down; why doth it also cumber the ground?
(Rev.6:13) and the stars of the heaven (Abraham’s seed) fell
unto the earth, as a fig tree casteth her unripe figs when she is shaken of a
great wind. Jesus identified the righteous as being under the fig tree
when He saw Nathanael there as an Israelite without guile (Jn.1:47‑50).
Notice that in the verse before the “cake of figs” was laid on the boil, faith
was expressed to God by the body for Hezekiah’s healing as the saints in the
“house of the Lord” were praising God for this. It was the figs’ faith that
sucked the poison out of the boil.
The Lord is [ready] to save me: Therefore we will sing my songs with stringed
instruments All the days of our life in the house of the Lord.
The cake of figs was a natural parable that represented a spiritual happening
just as in Jesus’ parables of planting wheat and corn, etc.
Medical Errors Costing U.S. Billions
Mistakes resulted in 238,337 preventable deaths from 2004-06, survey
TUESDAY, April 8 (HealthDay News) --
From 2004 through 2006, patient safety errors resulted in 238,337
potentially preventable deaths of U.S. Medicare patients and cost the
Medicare program $8.8 billion, according to the fifth annual Patient Safety
in American Hospitals Study.
This analysis of 41 million Medicare
patient records, released April 8 by HealthGrades, a health care ratings
organization, found that patients treated at top-performing hospitals were,
on average, 43 percent less likely to experience one or more medical errors
than patients at the poorest-performing hospitals.
The overall medical error rate was
about 3 percent for all Medicare patients, which works out to about 1.1
million patient safety incidents during the three years included in the
Among the other findings:
Patients who experienced a patient
safety incident had a 20 percent chance of dying as a result of the
The overall death rate among
patients who experienced one or more patient safety incidents fell by
almost 5 percent between 2004 and 2006.
However, over that time, there
were increases in post-operative respiratory failure, post-operative
pulmonary embolism or
deep vein thrombosis, post-operative
sepsis (blood infection), and post-operative abdominal wound
The most common types of medical
bed sores, failure to rescue, and post-operative respiratory
failure. Together, they accounted for 63.4 percent of incidents.
Failure to rescue improved 11.1
percent from 2004 to 2006, while both bed sores and post-operative
respiratory failure worsened during that time.
Of the 270,491 deaths that
occurred among patients who experienced one or more patient safety
incidents, 238,337 were potentially preventable, the researchers said.
If all hospitals performed at the
level of the top-ranked hospitals, about 220,106 patient safety
incidents and 37,214 patient deaths could have been avoided, and about
$2 billion could have been saved.
"While many U.S. hospitals have taken
extensive action to prevent medical errors, the prevalence of likely
preventable patient safety incidents is taking a costly toll on our health
care systems -- in both lives and dollars," Dr. Samantha Collier,
HealthGrades' chief medical officer and primary author of the study, said in
a prepared statement.
"HealthGrades has documented in
numerous studies the significant and largely unchanging gap between
top-performing and poor-performing hospitals. It is imperative that
hospitals recognize the benchmarks set by the Distinguished Hospitals for
Patient Safety are achievable and associated with higher safety and markedly
lower cost," Collier said.
Starting Oct. 1, the federal Centers
for Medicare and Medicaid Services will stop reimbursing hospitals for the
treatment of eight major preventable errors, including objects left in the
body after surgery and certain kinds of post-surgical infections.
Blood Transfusions May Increase Risks, Doctors Warn
UK study found dangers for heart surgery patients
· Fears over death rate and storage lead to US inquiry
Thursday April 24 2008
This article appeared in the Guardian on
Thursday April 24
2008 on p12 of the
UK news section. It was last updated at
00:08 on April 24 2008.
More than half of blood
transfusions may do more harm than good, with some patients facing a
six-fold greater risk of dying following surgery because of
transfusions, doctors warn today.
Fears over the
safety of blood transfusions have prompted some physicians to
recommend they are used only as a last resort, with hospitals urged
to be more selective over which patients receive blood. According to
a report in New Scientist today, the National Institutes of Health,
the US government's largest medical funder, has launched a review
into the safety of the procedure. Bruce Spiess, a cardiac
anaesthetist at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond,
America, told the magazine: "Probably 40%-60% of blood transfusions
are not good for the patients."
While the risks of contracting
life-threatening infections, such as HIV, from blood transfusions
are well understood, doctors believe the danger posed by the blood
itself is more serious.
Although they do not fully
understand why blood transfusions are linked to higher death rates,
they suspect that ageing blood that has been stored before being
given to patients is less able to carry oxygen to vital organs and
causes damage to the immune system.
Blood transfusions became a
common procedure during the two world wars, when they were used to
save critically-injured soldiers. They are now used routinely in
heart surgery, hip replacement operations and cancer treatment.
According to the National Blood Service, only 8% of donated blood is
used in accident and emergency situations.
According to New Scientist, a
recent flurry of studies highlighting the risks of blood
transfusions has prompted the wide-ranging safety review. One study
of almost 9,000 patients, led by cardiac surgeon Gavin Murphy at the
Bristol Heart Institute, found that patients who had heart surgery
between 1996 and 2003 were three times more likely to die a year
after their operation if they had a blood transfusion. In the month
after surgery they were six times more likely to die than patients
who did not receive donated blood.
"There is virtually no
high-quality study in surgery, or intensive care or acute care,
outside of when you are bleeding to death, that shows that blood
transfusion is beneficial, and many that show it is bad for you," he
said. There are more than 30,000 cardiac operations in Britain each
year, with around half involving blood transfusions.
The American review will
attempt to find out why blood transfusions appear to be so harmful
to many patients.
One theory is that chemicals
in donated blood suppress the patient's immune system, making it
harder to fight off infections. But doctors also know that within
hours of being collected red blood cells stiffen up, making them
less able to squeeze down narrow blood vessels and supply oxygen to
A study published last month
in the New England Journal of Medicine found that patients who
received blood that was more than two weeks old were almost 70% more
likely to die within a year than patients who received fresher
John Wallwork, professor of
cardiothoracic surgery at Papworth hospital in Cambridge, said: "We
are concerned about blood transfusions for a variety of reasons. We
don't want to use blood unless we have to. In heart surgery around
half receive blood transfusions, but often they are patients who are
sicker or bleed significantly during the operation. It's always a
case of balancing the risks."
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