Attadale Chiropractic > News & Views > Articles of Interest > The Media's Elephant in the Room

The Media's Elephant in the Room

Greetings, media people.

Your Own Elephant

The media’s elephant in the room is an informed mutual silence about a major controversial problem, Australia’s iatrogenic death toll.  That silence defends key people in both the government and the mainstream media who have betrayed and continue to betray the interests of those they are meant to protect.

Australian investigative journalist, John Archer, authored the book ‘Bad Medicine’.[i]  He used some of the medical data about iatrogenesis to guesstimate that Australia had 50,000 iatrogenic deaths per year.  Iatrogenesis refers to harm arising from medical treatment as distinct from the patient’s disorder. 

Supposedly, medicine is practised similarly internationally. According to the BMJ July 17 1999 "Studies in Australia, Israel, the United Kingdom and elsewhere suggest levels of error and hazard in patient care that are no lower than in America."   In the USA and in 2004, 3 MDs and a PhD reported: “The most stunning statistic, however, is that the total number of deaths caused by conventional medicine is an astounding 783,936 per year. It is now evident that the American medical system is the leading cause of death and injury in the US". provides good background information regarding categories of iatrogenesis.

 Public domain medical literature implies that the decades of an accruing iatrogenic death toll far exceeds all of the deaths incurred by Australian defence force personnel in all of the wars in which Australia has been a combatant. Wars are temporary; Australia’s hidden iatrogenic epidemic is continual. 

What is Australia’s government’s official estimate of iatrogenic fatalities?

The government relies upon ABS data.  In response to my request for Australia’s annual iatrogenic death toll I received the figure 259. 

Senator Nettle put question 1029, 14/7/05 to the Minister representing the Minister for Health and Ageing: Within all categories of the iatrogenic spectrum, what is the total number of public health patients who die in Australia each year as a result of iatrogenesis.

It received the following reply: No data is available on the number of deaths annually of public health patients in all categories of the iatrogenic spectrum. 

The health care Establishment’s crafted image of an acceptably safe level of public health lulls impending victims into a trust that in thousands of instances has fatal consequences. That crafted image conflicts with the public domain medical literature that infers the dimension is of epidemic/pandemic magnitude.

 An extraordinary conjuring feat. 

On 27-7- 2009 the Age newspaper published an article “Hospital Botches Kill 4500” which was based on a Federal Government Report about public health. The Age newspaper 29-12-12 published an article ‘Ways to Die’ which was based upon data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS).  So what happened to the 4500 deaths?  Apparently, the ABS data did not include deaths due to:

  1. adverse reactions to incorrectly prescribed drugs
  2. adverse reactions to correctly prescribed drugs
  3. errors (wrong site, wrong procedure, wrong patient) during surgery
  4. medical error
  5. hospital-acquired infections
  6. bedsores
  7. malnutrition among hospitalized patients
  8. unnecessary medical procedures
  9. failure to properly diagnose
  10. misdiagnosis
  11. failure to correctly treat

Collectively that list would account for most of Australia’s iatrogenic toll. 

According to an article in the Medical Journal of Australia Vol 163 6-11-1995: “Extrapolation to all acute hospitals within Australia in 1992 indicates that 50000 patients would have suffered permanent disability and 18000 would have died as a result of their health care,..”  These 18000 deaths from hospital fatalities as well as the medical literature’s thousands of iatrogenic deaths in other categories of iatrogenesis are not defined by the ABS as being iatrogenic.

How can the ABS data conceal rather than reveal a decade’s long iatrogenic epidemic?

Apparently the ABS data collection system allows the causes of thousands of iatrogenic deaths per year to be reallocated to non-iatrogenic causes of death.  When combined with the WHO ICD 10 classification system and a compliant media the true magnitude of the iatrogenic epidemic/pandemic is concealed rather than revealed.

According Lauren Moran [] 27 February 2013: The ABS does place particular focus on the underlying cause of death in the annual Causes of Death, Australia publication. This is due to the way each death is coded. When assigning a death with an underlying cause, the ABS mortality coders follow specific decision tables in the International Classification of Diseases (ed. 10) which is governed by the World Health Organisation. The aim of the underlying cause of death is not always to reflect the immediate event prior to death, but rather to capture the disease, disorder or external event that led to other causes occurring. Any other items on the death certificate will then be coded as an associated cause. 

Hence if George Power, the shearer ruined his kidneys taking 27 Aspro a day, (according to George his GP had advised him to take as many pain killers as he needed to control the pain) the cause of his death could have been reallocated to kidney failure not as an adverse reaction to a correctly prescribed drug.

When confronted with this elephant in their room, how would those who claim the moral high ground in Australia’s health care Establishment respond? 

Years ago I co-authored a submission from CAA (WA) to the WA government. I circulated the part about iatrogenesis to the ABS, politicians and key people in the mainstream media. Since then as more news about parts of the iatrogenic epidemic appeared I distributed that to major media outlets. I provided information to Carmen Lawrence the then federal minister for health, Daryl Williams, the then federal attorney general, the leaders of all political parties of the day as well as other MPs.  

People at the core of the health care Establishment, who should have acted to protect those who have since died or been permanently harmed by iatrogenesis, failed them and still continue to fail impending victims. 

What are the consequences of the health care Establishment’s betrayal? 

Many lives may have been saved if, in the 1970’s when Illich first recognised iatrogenesis or later in 1995 when Archer published his guesstimated 50,000 iatrogenic deaths per year, or when in 2004 Null et al confirmed that “the American medical system is the leading cause of death and injury in the US“, the government and the media had provided adequate forewarnings to let the public know that Australia’s medical system may create a or the, leading cause of death and permanent harm. Few know the term iatrogenesis; none know its total toll. 

While the public domain medical literature inferred thousands or tens of thousands of iatrogenic deaths per year were accumulating over decades to far exceed Australia’s war dead, the media continued to promote the false acceptably safe public health care image lulling impending victims into a trust that in many thousands of instances seems to have had fatal consequences. 

The media’s contribution toward the iatrogenic toll begins with not asking: Why, during the decades of this epidemic government’s failed to collect, collate and publish valid data about this epidemic?  The media published information about thousands of deaths due to various medical causes yet never seemed to question where those causes of deaths disappeared to in the published ABS data.  Seemingly Australia’s media did not investigate why the government apparently permits thousands of iatrogenic deaths per year to be reallocated to non-iatrogenic causes of death and to be lost in a flawed classification system. 

During those decades the health and lives of thousands of patients relied upon patients being clearly informed about the risks they were undertaking.   It beggars belief that media people while knowing that mutual silence and inaction imperilled impending victims of the iatrogenic epidemic, would choose not to forewarn them. 

One is left to wonder: what influence is adequate to cause prominent members of Australia’s mainstream media to turn a blind eye to a unique and extraordinary story? But; it is your elephant.

 I learn from and so welcome constructive criticisms of what I write. 


Michael McKibbin

CC chiropractic community via the Oz chiropractor’s email network.




Your Chiropractor

Michael McKibbin passed his Iowa Basic Science and graduated from Palmer College of Chiropractic in Davenport Iowa.

Since then both wonderful staff and patients have contributed toward decades of valued experience in his family practice.


October 2010
This is the October 2010 newsletter.

JC Smith Response Australia Letter