Excuse me...

>> Monday, 14 July 2008

...whilst I rant for a little while.

On last night's BBC news, it was reported that scientists hope to have vaccines available to combat MRSA and C-Difficile within the next 10 years.

This is good news, especially for the many people who have picked up strains of these Superbugs on hospital trips over the last few years.

But here is my problem. Why are these bugs in hospitals in the first place?

Forget the handwringing, and the blaming of the 'visitors', and the apologists who point out that our hospitals were often built 50 - 100 years ago so are very difficult to keep clean. Can somebody please tell me why they are so present in our NHS system and yet why in other countries, i.e. Holland, there are 50 times fewer cases of these superbugs?

I'm furious, because both of these bugs have directly affected my family within the last 4 years.

Boy #2 picked up an unexplained skin infection in hospital within 2 days of being born. When he was a week old he was readmitted with a combination of jaundice and Scalded Skin Syndrome. (Apparantly a sizeable minority of us carry this bug on our skin. But we were all tested - and it wasn't from his family that he caught it).

The jaundice, whilst serious and nasty, was sorted within a few days. But the SSS meant he was hooked up to IV's to pump antibiotics into his bloodstream for the next week. He pulled out canula after canula, each time meaning that it needed to be re-inserted in a different vein. Not much fun when you're 8 days old.

For the majority who are I hope unfamiliar with SSS, imagine a carpet burn spreading and proliferating across your newborn's stomach at the rate of around 1 centimeter diameter a day. Then imagine that because they don't know whether it's being caused by Staph or Strep, they have to give a double hit of antibiotics to a baby weighing less than 3.5 kilos, just to make sure they are giving the right treatment.

Then imagine that after being sent home a week later, this condition continues to reoccur around once every 3 weeks. You give antibiotics again - usually a double hit for the same reason as before. The condition clears up. You finish the course. The condition reappears. Guess what? More antibiotics.

Imgagine 4 months of this, during which you are pushed to the limit, knowing that the last place you want your precious baby is back in the hospital you suspect to be the cause of all this, but which you have to use because your doctor is not on call 24 hours a day and invariably it's during the evening bath that you spot the return of the condition. And the condition is so aggressive that you can't leave it until the next morning to pop back into the doctor's surgery for yet another repeat prescription. So where do you go? Yes, back to the hospital.

Finally, when your baby is 4 1/2 months old, you pop back into the hospital for yet more results and guess what they tell you? Your darling has MRSA. And this whole thing may have been a side effect, who knows? (Again, we were all tested. Again, negative.)

This diagnosis, however, was not all bad news. We finally - after all that time - got to see the right doctors, who very quickly helped us sort the whole thing out. These were the peadiatric dermotologists who we asked to see when Boy #2 was first admitted at a week old, and who we were told repeatedly were fully aware of the case and directing treatment but who, funnily enough, were never available to see us. The same peadriatric dermatologists who, when they first met us following the MRSA diagnosis, told us they had never heard of Boy #2 or our situation.

Are you getting why I'm mad yet?

And Husband's grandmother, Omie, acquired C-difficile during intermittent hospital stays to deal with a very low blood count. Perfect for an elderly lady who's immune system is incredibly low.

Neither of these - Boy #2 or Omie - were prime candidates for vaccination. In fact, if someone had come to me and asked if they could give my newborn child a jab just in case he picked up something nasty in the 2 days we were in hospital following a c-section, I wouldn't have waited to be discharged; I would have picked him up right then and walked straight out.

So please, can somebody tell me, why should we be happy that there is going to be vaccine available to prevent the spread of superbugs that are already preventable?

It's a simple solution.

It's called keeping the damn hospitals clean.


Rant over.

11 comments:

Nunhead Mum of One 14 July 2008 at 16:46  

I'm so with you on this one. When mum was in hospital before she passed over she was left in a hospital bed sitting in her own waste for forty five minutes and then staff wondered why she was "riddled with bed sores".

Whilst not a superbug, the state of our hospitals are appalling....Mum was in hospital for two weeks and I visited every day. For three days running a mop and bucket were left in the corner of mum's ward, quite near her bed bay. The contents hadn't been changed and, by day two was emitting a noxious whiff. By day three it was appalling and I ended up demanding the presence of the ward manager.

She argued that it was a "cleaning station" and therefore needed to be left there. I argued that the smell of the water was disgusting and proved that it hadn't been moved, yet alone used.

She pointed out (rather patronisingly) that I was mistaken and that the smell I was smelling was standard detergent. Perish the thought.

Before she left mum to go back and do some more paper pushing, I asked her to take a peek into the bucket which she did.

Funnily enough, when she saw the litter than I had been depositing into the bucket for the past three days (bottle lids, straws and clean yoghurt tops) she agreed that I was right and would "raise it with the necessary department".

But why is it you have to kick up a fuss to get anything done?

aims 14 July 2008 at 18:04  

Over here every single room has a sterile solution dispenser outside the door.

These have been installed in the last year after a hospital in the province infected a large amount of people and a huge rucous was made.

I'm grateful for that. I remember well when Mom got MRSA. She was never again allowed to have antibiotics - her system wouldn't tolerate them. Of course when she developed pneumonia....well....

Potty Mummy 14 July 2008 at 20:14  

That's shocking NH Mum. But sadly, not surprising.

Hi Aims, we have those too. But the problem is that the basic fabric of the hospitals seems so dirty that it's not making any differenc. And that, apparantly, the solution is so drying on nurses hands that they don't like to use it all the time. Perfect.

Tara@From Dawn Till Rusk 14 July 2008 at 20:55  

You are so right PM, it is an absolute disgrace and no they do not clean our hospitals properly. My mum had surgery in a brand new hospital and in the 5 days she was there she said the quality of cleaning was, at best, sloppy.
For a newborn to go through that is just unacceptable. I am so sorry you had to experience it, especially at a time when you should have been on a joyous high.

Mya 14 July 2008 at 22:21  

Sounds absolutely dreadful - poor boy#2. It seems to be getting to the ridulous state of affairs where whenever anyone announces they're going into hospital, everyone fears for them...nothing to do with the risk of the operation they're having...but the mere risk of being in a hospital superbug danger zone.

Mya x

Grit 14 July 2008 at 23:01  

OK, makes sense to me. now i just need a set of vaccines to get the family sorted. that'll be vaccines for head lice, eczema, stroppy madam lip, dig, grey hair, broken fingernails, age, saggy bosoms and irritating whining noises from squirrel. Just pump me up.

GoneBackSouth 14 July 2008 at 23:01  

Oh good heavens I can see why you're livid. What a frightful thing you've all been through. x

Mud in the City 15 July 2008 at 09:48  

I totally agree PM. Vaccines aren't the answer - you shouldn't be trying to fix the problem without going back to its source and tackling it there. Cleanliness has to be an absolute priority - it isn't rocket science! In the old days a matron ruled the ward with a rid of iron and made certain standards were maintained. These days everything seems to fracturer, nurses do nursing, cleaners do certain cleaning, contractors do other bits etc - no one galvanises the entire team to sort out the issue! There is no excuse for a lack of cleanliness in any of our hospitals.

Potty Mummy 15 July 2008 at 22:12  

Hi Tara, thanks for the commiserations and you're right, it wasn't great - though of course I freely admit lots of new parents go through far worse.

Mya, I know, that's so true. Can you believe that at the NCT I went to we were advised to take our own cleaning products for the loos in the delivery suite? And this is supposed to be a 1st world country.

Grit, when you find those - especially the ones for the saggy bosoms - can you let me know?

GBS, I'm (mostly) over it now. It's just every now and again that I need to just have a bit of a rant. Deep breaths now, deep breaths...

Hi Mud, you're right - though I'm not for moment saying the vaccines are not a good thing. For people who work in high risk environments they are definitely a good thing. They just shouldn't replace the basics - like cleaning!

Jonny's Mommy 16 July 2008 at 15:50  

Same thing going on over here in the good ole' U.S. of A.

Knew a girl who had a botched kidney transplant -- kidney was donated by her sister and the kidney failed because the doctor hooked it up wrong and then later the sister who donated the kidney contracted MRSA from the same hospital. Go figure!

Working mum 17 July 2008 at 09:04  

Too true! Just clean!
My daughter contracted a mystery skin thing after being born and was put in Special Care on antibiotics. Not only that, someone gave her the wrong antibiotic and she was in danger of having her kidneys damaged by it. Three bigwigs at the hospital came to tell me of the mistake (probably also to check out if I was going to sue): I nearly picked her up and walked out there and then. Luckily she was a tough thing and came home and thrived.

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