The best hospitals have more superbugs. Do patients have a right to know? | Matt McCarthy


One of the things that’s really interesting
that hospitals are wrestling with now is how to talk about superbugs. And the reason for this is that patients are
fearful every time they hear that there is a superbug inside of their local hospital. But the irony here is that many of the best
hospitals see the most superbugs. They have the most sophisticated diagnostic
techniques. They have the most powerful antibiotics. And they often care for the sickest patients. They also have the experts who know how to
treat these. And so a controversial ethical issue right
now is how much disclosure should hospitals have talking about the superbugs that they
find within their walls. Patient advocates say that this is like a
restaurant having an outbreak of food poisoning and that we have an obligation to be transparent
in what we’re finding. Many experts disagree with that because just
because there is a superbug inside of a hospital doesn’t mean that it infected anyone. It doesn’t mean it was spread around. And in fact, the infection may have been cured
very easily. So what we’re trying to figure out now is
how best do we talk about these things. Sometimes patients call people from the Department
of Health and say, does a hospital or a nursing facility have superbugs. Is it infested? Can I send my mother there? And we wrestle with how much to tell patients
because, if the best hospitals have the most superbugs, what do we say? And I’m all for transparency, but I want to
make sure that we couple that with education. What I want patients to understand is that
a world class hospital may have more superbugs, but they’ve also got the world-class medical
treatments and the experts who know how to treat you. So figuring out how we talk about this in
an informed way is one of the areas that intersect between my two interests of infectious diseases
and medical ethics.

38 thoughts on “The best hospitals have more superbugs. Do patients have a right to know? | Matt McCarthy

  1. The UK's hospitals have a serious infestation problem with superbugs like MRSA and c-Difficiel. UK worse than rest of Europe. Reason for this – f***ING right wing market forces idiots who compelled hospitals to contract out ward cleaning to the lowest bidder. And then gave nursing staff zero control over the quality of the cleaning. So now those bugs are in there, deep into the hospitals and almost impossible to eradicate. So false economy on cleaning contracts ended up killing people.

  2. I'm all for transparency, but I'm calling for the systematic hiding of critical information from the dumb public. I'm your doctor, and you're my cash cow.

  3. I have never heard of any hospital or clinic big or small talk to patients or potential patients about this problem. Why would they unless mandated by law!

  4. Healthy people avoid hospitals by eating and exercising properly. Dumb people think doctor visits are healthcare. The world could use less dumb people. Go superbugs!

  5. It would be nice if he said how Super-Bugs are cured very easily, and why they're called Super-Bugs if they're so easily cured. He needs to learn how to communicate in an effective way, because he does not do that.

  6. I've know I have MRSA since 2003. Apparently I picked it up during a dig on the border of Belize. But no one knows. It could have been in the US. So far they haven't been ale to knock it out. When infection flares up I get hooked up to a drip for a couple of days in the hospital. At least I get my own room. I've no idea how the hospital communicates this to the community. But they make no effort to hide my condition. Staff put on a special gown. There is a warning sign at the door. If I leave the room I wear the special gown.

    I wonder if there is a genome database of these bugs. I'd pa to have mine analysed if I had a reasonable chance of finding out where I got it.

  7. So a hospital has superbug – people die as a result – doctors knew but didnt say anything = was it murder / will anyone be held accountable…

  8. Well, more than inform the general public this should be informed to the departmens of health including the WHO and put regulations and protocols for immediate response and control of the patients.

  9. Justifying the withholding of info because non-scientists are too ill-informed is why many distrust & find scientists arrogant.

  10. Re: The title…Yes they should know, and they should know that factory farming of LIVE ANIMALS is the cause of this problem and that they can stop it by eating only locally small-farm raised meats/dairy who don't use antibiotics or to not eat meat and dairy at all.

  11. Dr. McCarthy, the hospital does have an obligation to be transparent regarding superbugs whether or not it infected anyone. Saying the infection might have been cured very easily is disingenuous, because most are not. That's why they're called superbugs. Even if cured easily, there would be no health reason to suppress this information. It sounds like your definition of "trying to figure out how to talk about this" really means how do hospitals and doctors deal with its negative publicity and economic impact.

    My wife contracted Klebsiella at one of the major hospitals in the Northeast US, which lead to pneumonia and sepsis. It only came up after I asked why they were administering (without asking or advising us) Ceftriaxone. Then I replayed the audio of the encounter, and heard she intentionally, and only once, slurred and sped up the word "klebsiella," and never mentioned it again.

  12. Dr. McCarthy, the hospital does have an obligation to be transparent regarding superbugs whether or not it infected anyone. Saying the infection might have been cured very easily is disingenuous, because most are not. That's why they're called superbugs. Even if cured easily, there would be no health reason to suppress this information. It sounds like your definition of "trying to figure out how to talk about this" really means how do hospitals and doctors deal with its negative publicity and economic impact.

    My wife contracted Klebsiella at one of the major hospitals in the Northeast US, which lead to pneumonia and sepsis. It only came up after I asked why they were administering (without asking or advising us) Ceftriaxone. Then I replayed the audio of the encounter, and heard she intentionally, and only once, slurred and sped up the word "klebsiella," and never mentioned it again.

  13. Hospitals should be made in a modular fashion. Each room, hallway etc made into small buildings that can be joined but also torn apart and sterilized/replaced, otherwise they become breeding grounds of infestation.

  14. They really cut their teeth on the title of this one – that last question is really dumb; here, lemme translate it to you: "Do patients have a right to Wi-Fi?"

  15. Your average person doesn't know how to conduct risk analysis and focuses on the dramatic rather than the practical. If going to a top hospital increases my chances to get a superbug from one in a million to five in a million but decreases my overall chance of a negative outcome from five in a thousand to four in a thousand then it should be clear what the better choice is. But the dramatic negative outcome will outweigh the everyday errors in an untrained person's mind and they will make the wrong choice.

  16. I've been sick my entire life and this makes me mad. Hospitals need to have full disclosure about any and all dangers to their patients, whether it be superbugs or immature assholes talking shit in the OR while the patient is asleep.

  17. It's easy enough to differentiate between there is a patient here with a certain diagnosis versus a hospital acquired infection.

  18. Apply rotation to wards like crop rotation only the ward in fallow goes through a full decontamination process.

  19. The privatization of cafeteria and janitorial services has added to the problem.

    Vancouver (British Columbia) General is the most filthy cesspool I have ever been inside of; I was airlifted there for a rare neurological disorder, and spent over a month.

    The neurological floor consistently had blood on the washroom floors and elevator, while people with compromised immune systems are tracking that shit all over the place with their wheelchairs – surgeons tracking it into operating rooms. Custodians taking 3 hour long breaks in the family lounge, filthy cafeteria tables.

    I also met 3 people during my short time there that all had contracted these fucking ‘superbugs’ from operations and/or minor procedures. One man I met, Pete, was a paraplegic due to a fall down some stairs, but was made a quadriplegic from a superbug he contracted from an minor procedure at Vancouver General.

    – They also do not let you view your own medical records in British Columbia. 🤨🤔

  20. Well this is the equivalent of free speech. We should all advocate for free speech but we should couple that with education so we don’t have huge masses of population fall for the deceptive practices of the likes of Alex Johnes and others

  21. Mega hospitals are too large. There is better control in smaller hospitals, of cleanliness, oversight, communication. When will the lesson be learned?

  22. Hospitals should really comprise a set of tents which is burnt down every year and a new tent hospital set up somewhere else, to avoid stuff like this.

  23. When people ask me if they can bring a kid of 4 year or less (even a baby) to see her grandma o morher, but they have clostridium, or e. coli blee o kpc etc etc … what should we do?
    I prefer to not, because the expose, the risk of infection its to much. But it thosen’t exist a protocol

  24. But would you do when a bug child slips and is falling down niagara falls and there is no superbug around 🙁

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  26. They dont sound so super, and even if it's the super saiyans bug, would you rather catch it in the least equipped place or the best? BIG think has been micro thought here lately.

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