A popular message circulating the internet claims that “guns don’t kill people, doctors do,” based on statistics that theoretically show that doctors are responsible for more accidental deaths every year than firearms.
Like many urban legends that cross the internet, it has a lot of “facts” for its readers, but it is unlike most urban legends in that it quotes a source: “Statistics provided by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.” The message was even recounted in an article by Nathan Tabor. The letter claims that:
— There are 700,000 physicians in the United States.
— There are 120,000 accidental deaths in the United States caused by physicians every year, and the accidental death percentage per physician is 0.171.
— There are 80 million gun owners in the United States.
— There are 1,500 accidental deaths from guns every year, regardless of age group, and the accidental death percentage per gun owner is 0.0000188.
This means, the letter points out, that doctors are 9,000 times more deadly than gun owners.
Based on U.S. government statistics from the Centers for Disease Control, combined with doctor-caused deaths published in the Journal of the American Medical Association it is evident that FDA-approved prescription drugs kill 290 Americans every single day, meaning that for mass shootings to approach that number, you’d have to see a Colorado Batman movie massacre take place EVERY HOUR of every day, 365 days a year.
That’s how dangerous doctors and FDA-approved prescription medications really are.
Additionally, specific information obtained by Death by Medicine shows that an estimated 106,000 people die from adverse drug effects — from properly prescribed drugs — every year, and approximately 98,000 die annually from some sort of error by medical staff. Compare this to statistics from the Department of Justice and the U.S. Centers for Disease control for the year 2004, which show an estimated 16,137 people were victims of homicide (not just firearm murders) in the United States.