Let’s be clear, this inquiry would not be taking place but for BBC Reporting Scotland’s leading (others followed) coverage of the deaths of five patients at two Glasgow hospitals. None of the five patients died because of hospital acquired infections. There is no scientific basis for this inquiry. There are at least three good reasons why this inquiry is not necessary.
First, five cases are not a statistically significant indicator of a real problem. Each year, in England & Wales, around 2 300 people die in hospital after MRSA and C difficile infections. In the USA, around 97 000 die in hospital from infections from organisms including bacteria and fungi.
Second, hospital acquired infection rates in Scotland are falling consistently and dramatically, despite soaring demand, suggesting that current procedures are every much on track:
Third, the Scottish Government already has plans in place:
Is it not a waste of public funds to start a new inquiry just to satisfy a media frenzy when there are existing ones currently being implemented and evaluated?
Given that so much of our understanding of reality is based on media representation, BBC Reporting Scotland is creating reality, a frightening one, and not, as they might wish to believe, merely reporting on some shared common reality out there. Given the insignificance of these infections as indicators of the shared experience of their viewers, they have chosen to report in a way which distorts it.
Some earlier thoughts on why and what effect this kind of ‘reporting’ might have.