>> 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.