With the recent increase in hospital acquired infections and the growing danger posed by antibiotic over-use, Professor Candid discusses the losing war currently being waged between doctors and bacterial infections.
‘Since 1847 it’s been generally known that washing is a good thing. Sammelweiss, the “saviour of mothers” found that giving the old Jimmy Shands a rinse in between doing autopsies and delivering babies cut the number of maternal deaths from peuperal fever to less than 1%. But ever since the advent of antibiotics and the electronic revolution we’ve decided to ignore this most basic of rules and in the process we’ve lost billions of pounds and many thousands of lives.’
He went on to recall his early experience: ‘When I was a houseman in geriatrics, Bacillus Betty, as we fondly called her, used to come on to the ward to clean twice a day. To be honest her mop was a tad fruity and whenever I’m tempted to smell my own belly button fluff she instantly springs to mind.
‘I remember once having a quick shufti in her bucket and found a gold tooth and a knarled amputated finger which went on to become our ward mascot. We would often use him on our rounds in order to point out pathology for the benefit of the medical students, a bit like a Jewish Yad. But sadly one day the finger went missing and rounds were never quite the same, rumour has it that he somehow managed to make his way into a sausage casserole.
‘If we had a bed crisis though and couldn’t punt away the patients quick enough we would often ask Betty to come and do a bit more mopping, it was a great cost cutter, it saved so much in the way of social care and the only down side was that it narked off the mortuary technicians a wee bit.’
Professor Candid went on to discuss his more recent experiences with infection control: ‘I was in hospital just the other week having my knee replaced – that was an experience! I was lying there, minding my own business, as high as a kite on diamorph when a super-bug slipped onto the ward. He had cunningly disguised himself with a cloth cap and a false beard, a bit like Jeremy Beadle, but I knew who he was and what he was up to. He went to sit by an old lady who had just had her hip done. The give away was his trench-coat which kept slipping off his lozenge shaped habitus, that and the fact that he would bud off an identical twin every half an hour.
‘When the medical staff got wind of this the shit really hit the f***ing fan. The FY1 was pushed into the room wearing a badge labelled “hygiene champion” with little more than a baseball bat and two weeks of training. He was ordered to kill or be killed. The young lad gave it his best and at one point it was 50:50 but to his credit he managed to finish it off with a well-aimed head shot. To be honest I think it was probably more accident than intentional. He was blowing cytoplasm out of his nose for a week after that.’
An independently verified hippie from Bexley says: ‘Killing these rare bugs is blatant discrimination and is an affront to animal rights everywhere. I say to the civilised amongst us that we should be conserving these special animals not trying to exterminate them.
‘In support of this I’ve just sublet out my left nostril to a family of asylum seeking anthrax spores. I’ve refused to vaccinate my children against all killer diseases known to mankind and in my arrogance I would rather bang a symbol over their feverish heads and waft crystals under their dripping noses than give antibiotics. After-all we have more bugs inside us than human cells which makes me more bug than woman.’ The columnist has to agree.
Dr Kevin Hinkley is a GP in Aberdeen.
Throught the K Hole