Truthfulness and Honesty with patients: Surgeons and Staff should be swabbed for superbugs – same as the patients

The Times on page 19, Tuesday 25th February reports: “Superbug Surgeon must tell patients”. Unfortunately it is not on the website. The reports says:

“A surgeon who infected 11 patients – five fatally – with an antibiotic resistant bug should disclose this information so that people may decide if they want the High Court has heard…

John Chen Lui Lu, a consultant heart specialist at the Trent Cardiac Centre at Nottingham City Hospital, was banned from performing surgery after the deaths in 2009…….”

It follows CTVnews in the USA saying of Hospital reports that “One in twelve patients carries antibiotic resistant “superbug”.

and Trisha Torrey on October 05, 2013 in (Patient empowerment) which advises: MRSA, C.Diff, VRE, CRE and Other Superbug Hospital Acquired Infections – From Hospitals to the Community, Superbugs Are Everywhere

It is routine for patients to be swabbed before Hospital admission. There are certainly more and more of these bugs in our society and this seems a sensible way to try to reduce cross infection and iatrogenesis. However, it is not routine for staff to be swabbed regularly. I have never understood why, but if the results were to be made overt by “freedom of information”, and if it was found that a patient had died of the same bug, you can imagine the potential for litigation. In addition the health service could be bought to a standstill as there would be many surgeons and nurses stopped from doing surgery! When I had my hip operated on I was concerned about the cross infection potential, and I could not get a meaningful reply to my questions about why the staff were not swabbed. It is more important to be honest than to protect the public from unpleasant information. Indeed, it’s the same problem with rationing… The public deserve to know the honest truth – that rationing is happening, and then we can debate the most ethical ways to ration….


This entry was posted in A Personal View, Rationing, Stories in the Media on by .

About Roger Burns - retired GP

I am a retired GP and medical educator. I have supported patient participation throughout my career, and my practice, St Thomas; Surgery, has had a longstanding and active Patient Participation Group (PPG). I support the idea of Community Health Councils, although I feel they should be funded at arms length from government. I have taught GP trainees for 30 years, and been a Programme Director for GP training in Pembrokeshire 20 years. I served on the Pembrokeshire LHG and LHB for a total of 10 years. I completed an MBA in 1996, and I along with most others, never had an exit interview from any job in the NHS! I completed an MBA in 1996, and was a runner up for the Adam Smith prize for economy and efficiency in government in that year. This was owing to a suggestion (St Thomas' Mutual) that practices had incentives for saving by being allowed to buy rationed out services in the following year.

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