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Friday, October 23, 2015

Nosocomial Nuisances

Where did this week go?  For those of you celebrating International Infection Prevention Week (IIPW), I hope it was memorable with compelling stories or education initiatives to rejuvenate your love of infection prevention and quest for improving the lives of others.  In trying to decide how to close the week off, having been given the topic of Nosocomial, I was looking for an upbeat rah-rah way to end the week but then thought otherwise.  It’s not that I want to be a Debbie-downer or point out flaws, but thought what better way to close out the week than with some stories from my friends and colleagues of their friends or families that have been impacted by a hospital associated infection. In sharing these stories I want to remind everyone why infection prevention is so important.  I have three stories; a worst case scenario leading to death, a story of while you can recover there may be lasting health effects and one that well...I’ll let you read about it.

I actually blogged about my first HAI story, in November2015 – it’s the one with an unhappy ending.  A friend reached out to learn more about C.diff.  Her mother-in-law had gone to the hospital with an UTI and pneumonia and contracted C.diff. We were going to meet so I could give her some disinfectant wipes that the family could use in the room to clean the bedside rails and other high touch areas.  We never met so I could give her the wipes.  Instead I attended a visitation. Her mother-in-law at the age of 67 had died of an HAI and my friend’s sons who were 4 and 6 were left wondering what was going on and asking when Grandma was coming back. A life was lost, senselessly.

The next story is fitting, because not only is it about an HAI, but an HAI that was transmitted to a nurse in the line of duty.  This story comes from one of my colleagues – a family friend who is a nurse was infected with SARS during the outbreak in 2003.  As a result of her bout with SARS she has been left with breathing problems due to the severity of the infection.  From a vibrant nurse she now has troubles walking around the house and is short of breath all the time.  Her lungs have been damaged so badly that she is no longer able to work. 

My last story is a little tongue and cheek, but I assure you it is true.  While it’s a happy story in that this young woman fully recovered, the story still had a sad ending.  This story, also from a colleague, is about a young woman who while being treated for bacterial bronchitis ended up with C.diff.  The first “bout” lasted for about 2 weeks and then she relapsed shortly after her antibiotics were finished.  As many of us know this is not uncommon.  Unfortunately, after a month of his girlfriend being ill, my colleague, a young man at the time, decided it was time to move on.  The young woman recovered from C.diff, but C.diff killed her budding young romance.....

IIPW is a week of celebration and a week of education.  Some of the most effective ways to learn is to reflect on our mistakes and reminisce on past events as the ones I have included above.  While we are all working to Target Zero, the truth is it will be sometime before we get there.  It’s not from a lack of trying, but due to all the moving parts that need to be working in concert and perfect precision.  I am proud of the work that my IP friends do in trying to ensure the patients in their facilities are safe.  Kudos to you!  You deserve to be celebrated!

Bugging Off!


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