Thursday, February 22, 2007

Hospital Acquired Infections

Figures released today show an increase in the number of deaths attributed to two types of infection which are often acquired in hospital, one of them being MRSA. Between them these two diseases alone were mentioned on more than 3,000 death certificates in 2005.

I cringed when I heard the view attributed to health minister Lord Hunt on the BBC that this increase in deaths was due to a higher emphasis on the problem resulting in better statistics.

The fact that this complacent explanation is impossible to disprove makes it more rather than less dangerous. Yes, it is possible that changes in the way statistics are recorded and collected can mean that an apparent increase in a problem is overstated or even entirely artificial. But by the same token, if the previous statistics were unreliable we cannot be certain that there was no increase. We can be certain that the number of deaths from diseases like MRSA is too high and that complacency is entirely inappropriate


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