Ebola, flue, and medical errors. It is sad to say that, unfortunately, those three things go together. Ebola has dominated the news cycle recently (Congo 2022). The Ebola outbreak in 2014 to 2016 in West Africa made news for its significant tragic impact. The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that there were 4,922 Ebola-related deaths in the Western region during that time from the disease. Outside of West Africa the story is much different.
Fear of the Unknown
With regards to your own personal health, Ebola is more of a distraction than a threat. At present, Ebola-related death is not considered a risk in the United States, Canada, or Australia. In 2014, there were 4 confirmed cases in the US. Yet, the North American coverage of the disease was completely out of sync with the magnitude of its threat to us. There are a variety of reasons for this disproportionate coverage. One significant explanation is that Ebola preys on our fear of the unknown. It’s much easier to think about Ebola, than other, more common and significant risks to our nations health.
Depending on the source you read, the number of people who die each year of the flu varies dramatically from a low of less than 1,000 up to 49,000. This wide discrepancy results from unclear reporting standards, poor record keeping, and fear mongering.
Medical errors are an even bigger issue. Much bigger. A study published in the September 2013 issue of the Journal of Public Safety concluded that anywhere from 210,000 to 440,000 Americans die each year from “preventable harm in U.S. hospitals.” Consider the impact of medical mistakes within the context of the mounting paranoia about Ebola and the flu. It’s as if we fear the snowflake but ignore this ongoing, daily avalanche of unnecessary loss.
Failure of Our Own Institutions
So, why the excessive attention to the smaller threats? In the case of medical mistakes, we often rely on the same people committing the errors to report them. Ebola and the flu are an external threat, but medical error results from the failure of our own institutions.
You can mitigate the potential impact of all diseases and medical errors on your own life by keeping yourself healthy. Proper nutrition, staying fit, and keeping your spine and nervous system performing at optimum levels does a great deal to keep you healthy and out of harm’s way. If you only take action towards better health when you are in crisis, make the critical transition to healthy choices every day as part of your lifestyle. Take your well-being into your own hands and commit to a lifestyle that leads to sustained, lasting health. Not just your life, but your quality of life depends on it.