Doctors Are More Dangerous Than Gun Owners-Humorous Fiction!

Summary of eRumor:

The forwarded email compares the rate of accidental deaths between physicians and gun owners and concludes that rate of accidental deaths per physician is much higher than the rate of accidental deaths per gun owner.

The Truth:

This email is obviously the humorous creation of a gun enthusiast.

We don’t know when it was written but not all of  the statistics appear accurate. 

According to the U.S. Department of Health Services there were about 780,000 licensed physicians in the United States in 2008, so that figure seems good.

Finding statistics that everybody agrees with regarding deaths caused by doctors is a little more difficult.  Dr. J. Mercola released a book in 2000 titled Doctors are the Third Leading Cause of Death in the US, Causing 250,000 Deaths Every Year.  His breakdown, however, largely focuses on errors in hospitals and includes 12,000 deaths by unnecessary surgery, 7,000 due to medication errors in hospitals, 20,000 due to other errors in hospitals, 80,000 from infections in hospitals, and 106,000 from the negative effects of medications.

Regarding gun owners, according to the National Rifle Association (NRA) 2010 Fact Sheet, they tallied in the U.S. between 70 and 80 million.  The NRA fact sheet also said that there are close to 300 million privately owned firearms in the United States with hand guns counting for nearly 100 million and that somewhere between 40-45% of American households have firearms.

According to the National Rifle Association there were 776 accidental deaths from firearms in 2000, a lower figure than in the email.

That’s all interesting to know but the premise of the email is weak and, as we said, mostly aimed toward humor.  Comparing doctor deaths to accidental firearm deaths is meaningless, especially because doctors are dealing with people who are sick in the first place, some of whom are at high risk for death or have gone through high risk medical procedures.

Updated 8/230/10

A real example of the eRumor as it has appeared on the Internet:


(A) The number of physicians in the U.S. is 700,000.

(B) Accidental deaths caused by Physicians per year are120,000.

(Calculation) Accidental deaths per physician is 0.171.

Statistics courtesy of U.S. Dept of Health Human Services


Now think about this:


(A) The number of gun owners in the U.S. is 80,000,000.

(Yes, that’s 80 million..)

(B) The number of accidental gun death per year, all age groups, is 1,500.

(Calculation) The number of accidental deaths per gun owner is .000188.

Statistics courtesy of FBI


So, statistically, doctors are approximately 9,000 times more dangerous than gun owners.


Remember, ‘Guns don’t kill people, doctors do.’




Please alert your friends to this alarming threat.

We must ban doctors before this gets completely out of hand!!!!!


Out of concern for the public at large, I withheld the statistics on lawyers for fear the shock would cause people to panic and seek medical attention.