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Thursday, August 17, 2006

MRSA (Mer SaH)

Troubling medical news - not for what the story says (see story here), but for what the story implies, particularly about parents and doctors and how they care for children.

MRSA is a serious staph infection. This article describes research into how common MRSA is becoming in the community. MRSA had generally been a problem only in nursing homes and hospitals, but now community acquired MRSA (acquired outside of these places) is becoming more common. This particular article covers staph skin infections (which can be serious should the infection enter the blood stream). For older folks, this is the old "watch for red streaks around an infection".

Over prescription of antibiotics, i.e., prescribing antibiotics when an non-antibiotic treatment will work just as well or better, has created drug resistant strains of staph that can cause "flesh eating" wounds and pneumonia... (but I paraphrase the article here).

Now for the troubling part. Parents apparently bring their children to hospitals with what they describe as "a spider bite that's not getting better or a pimple that's not getting better.” What do doctors do (and apparently have been doing) - prescribe antibiotics.

Why is this troubling? Because its unnecessary, as the article goes on to point out. Simply cleaning out the area (and draining the pus) offers the cure most of the time.

(For those to young to know - what this (cleaning out the area) means is opening an infected area, e.g., breaking open a pimple and picking off a scab, and flushing the area thoroughly with something like over-the-counter hydrogen peroxide. Usually several treatments are required. Other "home remedy" style treatments can include soaking the infected area in boric acid water or using something like iodine in place of peroxide.

Why is this not done? Well, for one thing it hurts. So little Suzy or Johnny will cry and all the adults will feel bad - and we can't have that. Much better to prescribe a fruity tasting pill.

Another reason is that things like boric acid are harder to buy than they used to be. Why? Because they are dangerous or, in this case, poisionous. So little Suzy or Johnny will eat the stuff and die. So the medical community has replaced a $.02 cure (a 1/4 pound of boric acid costs are around $5.00 US and will last a decade) with expensive prescription drugs.)

You have to ask yourself:

1) Why don't the parents clean out the area themselves (using iodine, mercurochrome, peroxide, boric acid, etc.)?

2) Why don't the doctors (or nurses) clean it out at the hospital?

3) Are the doctors simply prescribing antibiotics to do their (or the parents) job for them?

I have personally noticed that simple cuts don't heal quickly unless their cleaned thoroughly as described above. In the past I did not notice this - it could be because the pesky bacteria are more stubborn now or it could be because I am older and don't heal as quickly. In any case, these treatments have so far not failed me.

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