Monday, June 22, 2009

Iatrogenic Illness

Senator "Byrd developed a staph infection while hospitalized"
There's a sense among many that the only people who get staph infections while hospitalized are those who go to sub-standard hospitals.  Certainly a US Senator, and an elderly one at that, would not be taken to a filthy ghetto hospital.  I'm sure he's at the best hospital in the area.

Like so many things, people convince themselves that iatrogenic infection/illness/death only happens to people who've made some avoidable mistake to bring it on themselves.  Imagine the surprise when they learn that I was misdiagnosed and maltreated at well-respected big-city medical groups, one of them staffed primarily by medical school professors.  These weren't ignorant rural doctors, my doctor didn't get his training in a Third World country, it wasn't the county indigent clinic, it was places that have good reputations ... for other conditions. 
As one outside doctor told me about the second one, he would have no problem sending a member of his family there for some cutting-edge treatment; they have a good reputation for that.  Their cancer surgery is top-notch.  The problem is, there are no headlines to be made for treating chronic illness; it's drudgery and one of those things that the medical group provides because it's expected of them.  If someone has a special interest in a condition (for example, a relative suffers from it), the doctor will keep up on that condition, but no one there was researching CFS/fibro, so the treatments they were offering had been discredited two decades earlier and no one was even aware of that research. 
In both cases, these medical groups are located near the Central Business District of a large city, in a neighborhood of expensive Victorian homes populated by professionals.  They treat lawyers and CPAs and other wealthy people; these are not ghetto areas where the residents are expected to be thankful they have any medical care available to them at all.  In both cases, if you were to ask a judge where he goes for his medical treatment, he's likely to proudly name the place I went.
Senator Byrd's situation proves that iatrogenic and hospital-acquired infections/illnesses aren't limited to the poor.  You can choose the best place in town and still get medical treatment that proves disastrous.
Don't convince yourself "it can't happen to me, I only go to the best places" ... so do I and so does Sen. Byrd.


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