Sunday, May 30, 2010

Phoenix-area hospitals fight toxic 'supergerm'

MSM coverage of this sort of thing frequently leaves out important facts that the public really should be more conversant with in understanding the problem. Taking this story at face value, the reader might reasonably infer that the bug is invading hospitals from somewhere else and it's just a wild, unpredictable mutation out of control. An accident. Act of gad.

What the AP story doesn't tell us is that this bug has been manufactured in hospitals from our normal gut flora due to the overuse of antibiotics. The story implies that treatment with antibiotics is the best course, when it appears that the normally effective course is withdrawing antibiotics and replacing depleted gut flora to rebalance the system.

Hospital administrators and public health authorities have understood these mechanisms for decades, yet there has been almost no effort to curb the use of antibiotics, let alone public policy in that direction -- probably because the drug companies would instantly gin up TV campaigns accusing public advocates for such policy of working to kill off grandma to reduce the deficit.

An important part of the responsibilities of journalism is to ask the questions that the press release raises, and look beyond the curtain to the deeper issues. This story takes a nasty tumble on that score.


Candace said...

And here's how we can check on our fave hospital.

YRMC comes out reassuringly low, but not as low as Flag.

How we check up on the antibiotic load of the meat we eat, from the animals dosed up and crammed into Concentrated Animal Feed Operations, I do not know.


Steven Ayres said...

Thanks, Candace, that looks like a great resource.