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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Apathy: A Tale of Two Cows

My intent for this week's blog was to continue along the vein of apathy in our healthcare system when it comes to cleaning and disinfection, the use and choice of products and instilling compliance regarding their use to ensure positive patient outcomes.  Nothing spells apathy to me then hearing someone say "I don't care what disinfectant we use, you're the one who pays for it".... it was then that the narrative for the blog started forming.

And then I came across The Center for Disease Dynamics,Economics and Policy's blog titled "A tale of two cows: Why we have a cowmap and not a healthcare acquired infection map".  Now that I have sufficiently recovered my composure after reading the blog, I knew I had to share.  My discussion on apathy as it relates to cleaning and disinfection will have to wait until next week!

Drs. Saman and Kavanagh eloquently weave a satirical tale using the agriculture industry's ABILITY to account for EVERY cow in EVERY county in the US comparing it to the healthcare industry's INABILITY to agree on how to define or how to account for every HAI that occurs within their facilities.  The following is an excerpt that I hope will entice you to read the full blog:

"First there was intense disagreement on what a cow is.  Not everyone used the same definition.  Some farmers defined cows as black-haired mammals with at least four white spots, while others defined them as four-legged mammals with three black spots. Confusion certainly prevailed.  Some farmers asked whether cows in ponds are counted the same as cows eating grass.   It was then decided to only count cows standing in streams.  Called Cow Stream Infestations (CSIs) or cowteremia, this classification provided data that some praised and all could agree upon.  But the CSIs occurred so infrequently that meaningful comparison between farms could not be made."

Perhaps I found the comparison so vastly amusing because I grew up on a beef farm and knew how many cows we had, what breed (or crossbreed) they were, and what calf belonged to what cow going back three generations... 

Drs. Saman and Kavanagh summarized by stating "We believe our vision of cow counting utopia, applied to HAIs, can contribute to reducing unnecessary and mostly preventable infections and deaths.   This satire is not about public reporting, for that introduces another plethora of excuses of why it cannot be done.  The satire is about having the data for action, for community and federal response to a large and dangerous epidemic in our nation."

If we are to stop the spread of HAIs we need to work together to agree to black and white definitions.  The definition should not be defined in such a manner as to shed a "better" light on our facilities.  The definitions should be set to allow for clear classification, clear identification and clear means to create an action plan on how to improve.   Are we being apathetic towards the true concern of HAIs due to our inability to create clear definitions that everyone agrees to use?  What do you think?

Bugging Off!


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