Numerous surveys made by leading medical men themselves have revealed that there is a definite danger involved in entering a hospital. The mayhem in the hospitals is matched by the fact that 15 to 20 percent of the inmates of these institutions are suffering with drug-induced diseases. Hospitalization itself is declared to have produced a "noxious event" for no less than 20 percent of all patients who enter these institutions, and one in ten of all hospital deaths is authoritatively declared to be, in whole or in part, the result of hospital care.
Are These Our Doctors? by Evelyn Barkins, The Doctors' Dilemmas by Louis Lesagna, M.D., The Therapueutic Nightmare by Morton Mintz and The Doctors by Martin L. Gross are but a few of the many books that have been published within recent years discussing the evils and shortcomings of present-day medical and surgical practices. Many magazine articles and newspaper columns have also been devoted to this subject. It is generally agreed both by the lay writers and the physicians who have written on the subject that physicians are poorly educated and poorly equipped for the work they pretend to be doing. In addition to these writings there have been congressional investigations, such as those conducted by Kefauver and Humphrey, which have shown the inadequacies and evils of present-day practice. These exposures have led to the passage of laws and to many suggestions of means and measures that should be taken to improve medical practice. It hardly needs to be said that what has been done and what has been suggested to be done are but reform measures designed to sweet-scent an institution that should be destroyed root and branch.
It is fundamentally false and historically unsupported to assume that any number of petty reforms of an existing institution can result in its transmutation into something radically different. The fact is that the more an institution reforms the more it remains the same. Reforms do not merely spread out a revolution over a longer period of time; they forestall the revolution and preserve the thing that it is sought to get rid of. Revolution is not reform concentrated in a shorter time; rather, it is a basic or radical change that obliterates the old and ushers in the new.
The writers of the aforementioned books and books like them, whether laymen or reputed scientists, professing to take a hard look at the prevailing medical system, manage to ignore the long-evident symptoms of its fatal illness. Nothing in the harsh realities of the past half century shakes their faith that medicine remains basically a sound system, which can be reformed into a beneficial system of practice by sufficient tinkering with the surface phenomena. Burdened with their unwarranted belief in the basic soundness of the medical system, they inevitably see the ills which they are unable to blink, with self-deceiving optimism and sterilely occupy themselves with senseless proposals for improving a medical system that is hopelessly doomed. Even the unmistakably grave problems of mounting crippling and lethal side effects and a continuing heavy creation of drugs that add to these fail to dishearten them because they simply refuse to believe that they are grave. They see these effects as mere technical problems and think that they can be handled without radical change in the methods of practice or in the fundamentals upon which the practice rests. Is it their fault if contrary developments insist on belying their cheerful analysis?
All efforts to solve these "current problems" are miserly efforts to make the old system work or at least to produce less harm. The most that such writings can do is to alert the cure-mongers to the defects of their schemes, which defects, at best, they can only alleviate, but never eliminate. Such books aid and abet the prolongation of the very evils which they reveal. Their authors waste their time in such work; the great goal for which they profess to be aiming cannot be reached by the work they are doing.
It is plain to any student of medical "history" that today humanity stands at a fork in the road. Inevitably and always the curing schemes run into a blind alley from which they cannot escape. The medical system is now marking time in such a blind alley. Anxious to preserve the fundamentals of their evil system, they seek by reform to modify some of its worst evils. Medical reforms and regulations, such as those that grew out of the Kefauver investigation, would preserve the system of poisoning, but would eliminate or try to eliminate some of the poisons used, or reduce the size of the doses, decrease their frequency or substitute milder for more drastic drugs, etc. Like all reformers, those who would save the medical system seek to eliminate effects without removing causes; they are like the physician who applies a corn plaster to a toe while leaving the ill-fitting shoe to produce more friction. Like all reformers, they are always inconsistent, self-contradictory and uncertain about where they are going. They proclaim against an evil, but are content to attack isolated evils instead of seeking to destroy the whole system of which the isolated evil is but a minor feature. Only those remain consistent whose principles are sound. If the revolution is not to be a still-born thing--if it ever reaches the dignity of a revolution, sweeping into it men of all ranks, the poor and the rich, the illiterate and the man of education--it must rest upon a bed-rock of great principles.
In general, those who dislike and oppose valid reforms and urgently needed revolutions have been those who are well off in the existing order of things. Although they have persuaded themselves that their opposition to and dislike of change proceeds from conservative principles and their love of that order which is "heaven's first law," the true explanation of their opposition to any change in the existing order is that they fear the loss of their special privileges, unique advantages and lucrative practices. They have developed a fine taste for the preservation of their own interests. If a valid reform begins or a revolution breaks out, how can they tell where it will end? They are not opposed to change because of any desire to see others wretched, destitute, sick and unhappy, but merely because they fear that any radical change might make matters worse for themselves. The general has its exceptions, but still it is the rule that the comfortable, full-fed and amply provided for are not likely to carry the torch of social, Hygienic and medical reform and revolution. This is the work of those who see and, perhaps, feel where the shoe pinches and supplies fail.
The suggestions made by popular writers on medical evils for correction of these evils are but petty reforms that the true revolutionist will shun. They are pitfalls to catch the unwary. The crocodile tears that were shed by Kefauver and Humphrey over the people damaged and killed by drugs were as phony as a three dollar bill. They were sham tears designed to make the poor victims of the faith in poisons think that something was being done for them. In the future these victims are to be safeguarded. All of this was meant to encourage the illusion among drug takers that the medical profession and the government are friends of the sick, and that in these lie their real hope for the future. But, looked at from the vantage point of the Hygienist, all of this effort to pull the wool over the eyes of the people was but evidence of the contempt in which the physicians, drug manufacturers and politicians hold the people, and expect them to accept as real all the crocodile tears shed by the agents of exploitation.