Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Hospitals are dangerous places

  1. Jul 13, 2005 #1

    Ivan Seeking

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    In the news: I didn't spot the story reported tonight, but the number of up to 100,000 deaths per year in the US due to medical errors was cited. Some related reading which shows that hospitals are about [maybe half] as dangerous as cigarettes; based on a simple head count of wrongful deaths each year.

    http://www.independenttribune.com/s...icle&c=MGArticle&cid=1031783552377&path=!news

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/wales/4121542.stm


    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/07/12/AR2005071201555.html
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 13, 2005 #2

    Ivan Seeking

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    The number for the UK obviously doesn't apply to the US, but the report cites an additional significant cause of death: Equipment failure. I didn't spot a similar number for the US.
     
  4. Jul 13, 2005 #3

    Pengwuino

    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    I wonder if theres a connection between the rise in deaths with any rise in patients
     
  5. Jul 13, 2005 #4

    loseyourname

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member

    You might want to consider changing the title of this thread. When I first read it, I started laughing and thought to myself "of course they're dangerous, everyone there is either sick or injured and there are poisons lining the shelves." That kind of detracts from the point you're trying to make.

    That first article is pretty reassuring, though. I've been wondering for years why hospitals and medical offices didn't simply have all that stuff on file to begin with. The woman they talked with made a great point about elderly patients having complications from allergies they forget they had and drug interactions from drugs they forgot they were taking. It can be hard for an individual to remember all that stuff. It sounds like the pharmacies are the really dangerous places.
     
  6. Jul 13, 2005 #5

    loseyourname

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member

    I looked at the article again to be sure, and none of them said anything about a rise in deaths. They just state the numbers, without any comparison to previous numbers.
     
  7. Jul 13, 2005 #6

    Ivan Seeking

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    It was intended to be a little tongue and cheek, but hopefully not to the point of distraction. :biggrin:
     
  8. Jul 13, 2005 #7

    Ivan Seeking

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    I would imagine that hospital caused infections rates are up as compared to twenty years ago.

    EDIT: FYI, a couple of the more interesting accidents that I saw during my seven years in the medical field, involved MRIs. In one case someone took an O2 H-tank - ie five foot missile - into the magnet room while a patient was on the table. Luckily it only skimmed his belly as flew past. The guy with the WWI [low grade stainless] pins in his leg wasn't so lucky. :yuck:
     
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2005
  9. Jul 13, 2005 #8

    loseyourname

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member

    Well, they're almost certainly up compared to forty years ago, since the evolution of antibiotic resistant bacteria.
     
  10. Jul 13, 2005 #9
    Ah, yes, the infamous MRSA's.

    Here's an interesting article from Canada about a Dutch approach.
     
  11. Jul 13, 2005 #10
    Pedant Patty would like to point out that number of infections per se would not be up as a result of drug resistant bacteria, but rather that the number of infections that are difficult to clear with antibiotics is up. In this sense the rate of acquisition of a problematic infection is certainly no worse than before the advent of antibiotics.

    Number of nosocomial infections may actually be down, as measures such as quarantine and better sterilisation/disposal of contaminated items, etc, are more in force today than 5 - 6 decades ago.
     
  12. Jul 13, 2005 #11

    Art

    User Avatar

    One of the problems in England recently identified are the ambulances are harbouring the bugs thus cross infecting hospitals.
     
  13. Jul 13, 2005 #12

    selfAdjoint

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member
    Dearly Missed

    Quaranteen is better now? I don't think so. When I was a child (1933 -1946) quaranteen for measles and whooping cough was the common thing, but not now. Of course we have vaccines for those, but when was the last time you saw a quaranteen sign on someone's house for anything?
     
  14. Jul 13, 2005 #13
    That's not what I'm talking about.

    Quarantine for "simple" bacterial infections, within the hospital. Hospitals have wards now specifically for MRSA. There is special staff for MRSA infected patients, etc. Some equipment is kept out of general use, and so on.
     
  15. Jul 15, 2005 #14

    Moonbear

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    That's what I would think too, that although more antibiotic resistant bacteria are running around, hospital sanitation practices are more stringent than decades ago. Even a minor example that likely has a big impact on reducing spread of infections is that the university hospital here requires that any child under 14 wear a face mask while visiting (this would both keep the children with mild infections from schoolmates from infecting patients who might be more sensitive to the illnesses, especially the little kids who don't always remember to cover their mouth and nose when they sneeze, and it keeps the kids from being exposed while visiting, again, especially the little ones prone to sticking fingers in their mouths and noses). Anyone entering with a cough of any kind is also required to wear a mask.

    The hospital staff also have much more stringent guidelines for wearing protective garments/equipment than they used to as well, which means they are less likely to be spreading infections from patient to patient. A lot more of the hospital supplies are disposable and packaged in individual sterile packs, so there would be fewer issues of improper sterilization leading to spread of infection.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?