Once again, the media has found a new sensationalized story to fixate on, the ebola virus. The hysteria fanned by the media after a… yes a, like one, …patient who traveled from West Africa, where the virus has claimed the life of about half of those infected and a number into the thousands, has died. Following that one patient’s death a…yes a, like one, …healthcare worker, of some 70+, who cared for the patient has now developed the illness as well. So now the media really has reason to ramp things up. At least until another non-significant story evolves.
Do not get me wrong, I understand that ebola is a deadly illness one wants to avoid but nonetheless here are a few numbers to curve the ebola hysteria. First, a disclaimer, as I am sure critics will point out the numbers are apples and oranges. However, as mentioned in the book when looking at the bigger picture all fruit and more important food for thought.
Nonetheless, the numbers:
-According to the CDC, every day in the USA 1 of 25 patients develops a healthcare-associated infection. Yes those are USA numbers and not West African numbers. That equals some 722,000 a year. And that is not a typo but, yes, just shy of 1 million patients a year. Of those 722,000 patients 70,000 die every year.
-The CDC also states that every year close to 600,000 die in the USA because of heart disease. Of which, some 200,000 of those deaths could be prevented each year and half of them would be under the age of 65.
-Every year, 126,438 deaths are accidental despite accidents being preventable. As mentioned in a previous post, of those accidental deaths more than 40,000 are related to opiate overdose.
Those numbers are EVERY year and not numbers because of El Niño, Global warming, sun electromagnetic pulses or some “over tilt of the planet phenomenon” years.
So what is the big deal with ebola. Again, nothing more than the unknown. Because if it were known many would not care and why the media does not show interest in any of the above listed numbers either. However, when a healthcare worker mentions such to the patient it would likely be a complaint despite the healthcare worker showing interest in the patient. Here are a few of those listed patients I seen in the past week, none ebola patients of course.
A 34-year-old female with a medical complaint of, “I [patient] need to get my insulin refilled.”
“How long have you been out of your insulin?” I asked.
“A couple of weeks,” she fired back.
“How much is a couple of weeks?” I asked.
She had to think for a moment before answering, “Three or four weeks.” And why I always ask how much is a “couple” because rarely is it two.
Adding, “I [patient] have other things to do like take care of my kids and cannot get to the doctor to get them [prescribed medicines].”
It just happens her random glucose check was 758mg/dL. Guess what I said?
“I understand everyone is busy but if you want to be on this planet for your kids you better take care of your diabetes first. That means putting your diabetes ahead of your kids. If you don’t, you are going to damage your kidneys, your heart, your brain, your vision and the list goes on and on. Then you will be no good to your kids because it is going to be them who will have to care of you until you die. Think about that.”
I know, apples and oranges, but rather talking about ebola more common illnesses need to be addressed. Why? Because it is very likely that if this woman continues her lack of interest for her illness such disinterest will only lead her to die prematurely, as one of the 73,831 who die from diabetes related complications, and not because of ebola.
In the same week, I saw a 10-year-old for an “asthma attack”. To say the least, I was not impressed with his asthma. What I was impressed with was that his BMI was 41. Yes, 41. For this child, the WebMD Kid’s BMI calculator states, “Your child’s predicted adult weight is 379 [lbs.]. This weight was calculated by figuring out how overweight your child is now, making some estimates around your child’s projected height, and projecting into adulthood.”
Yet, I been told my administrator’s not to address issues not related to the patient’s “purpose of visit” to the emergency department, in this case his asthma. Although an asthma exacerbation can lead to death it is more likely this child’s weight is what will eventually kill him in adulthood if his weight continues to be a topic no one wants to address.
Again, I know, apples and oranges. However, what not only the media should be talking about but healthcare workers should be talking about as well yet hold back for fear of losing our jobs. I cannot imagine anyone reaching an adult weight of 379lbs but that is WebMD’s prediction for this 10-year-old based on his current weight. WOW!
It is VERY unlikely this young man is going to die because of, or even get, ebola but it is very likely he is going to die from complications from his obesity.
Like the diabetic with a 758mg/dL random glucose I saw a male of about the same age and with the same reason for not taking his medicines, “To busy with life,” he said. His reason for coming into the emergency department was because he was having a headache and blurred vision. When I told him it was his blood pressure, 205/107, he said, “That’s what I thought it was and why I came in, to get blood pressure medicine.” As if being symptomatic were the only reason to take prescribed medicines.
“How long have you not taken your medicine?” I asked.
“I have no idea. But it’s been a while. I just have to many things to do and I always forget,” he said.
Guess what I told him? “Sir, if you think taking a pill twice a day and following up with your PCP to get refills is a burden just imagine the burden you are going to be on your children when you have a stroke and your children are going to have to change your diapers.”
Again, apples and oranges, and VERY unlikely this young man will die of, or even get ebola either. However, it is very likely his hypertension will be his demise. But, yet, again, everyone is fascinated with ebola and things we have NO control over. Yet, things we can control we could care less about. That goes for the media as well who perpetuates the drama of exotic illnesses and disregard the mundane.
Having said that, I found it interesting the other night when I was overheard dictating in a patient’s chart, “Denies travel outside Arizona in past two months,” and the attending asked me if that was my screening for ebola. I did not reply. But NO! It is my screening for ebola. Instead, it is my screening for enterovirus D68, which has infected some 691 in 46 states and caused the death of at least two, and maybe three, yes three, like 1 + 1 + 1 = 3, this season. Although three is an insignificant number on its own, enterovirus D68 has killed two more than ebola has in the USA, as of 11 October 2014, yet, not so much talked about in the news, or work, as ebola is what is currently in vogue.
With regard to the customer experience, it will not be too long before patients begin to ask for an Ebola test. And to healthcare, do not expect them to leave happy if they do not get it. Just like when they get all bent out of shape after demanding any diagnostics that is not clinically indicated and I say, "No. ["X" diagnostic] is not indicated." Mark my words. It's not too far away. Just wait. It will not be long.
Now, after all that, the moment everyone reading this has been waiting for. How did I get ebola? Well, this is how I got ebola. I got, THAT, ebola is just something the media can preoccupy itself with until the next sensationalized story takes over. Which makes me think, what are the Kardashians doing these days?
One more thing that this hysteria has angered me about, do NOT kill another F@%#!*G dog because of hysteria. Why? Because, when a dog is suspected of having rabies, an illness with a 99.99999% death rate, unlike ebola, the animal is quarantined and only euthanized if rabies is confirmed. So DO NOT KILL ANOTHER F@%#!*G DOG or ANIMAL FOR NO REASON!