Sunday, 24 July 2011


This comment started as my facebook status however one of my contacts(at the time very drunk) posted some incredibly inappropriate comments in reply so I felt I should move the original statement here and invite any who could present a sensible comment to do so.

Any loss of life is a tragedy however the fact Amy Winehouse is getting more media coverage than the ninety-five dead in Oslo and the twenty(potentially up to fifty) victims of that nurse in manchester suggess we have some serious priority problems in this country.

I will admit to having taken issue with Amy Winehouse in the past on the basis that anyone who has celebrity status has a responsibility as a role model. Amy influenced a new generation of teenage drunk junkies.However was she like that before she became famous? I refuse to believe anyone becomes addicted to anything willingly, some trigger usually provides the push. Her passing so young is very sad. I would not normally hazard a guess at cause of death before it has been officially released but I feel it is a safe bet that it is something drink or drug related.

On the other side of the coin, the near one hundred dead in Oslo were the victims of a randomised attack by an extremist. The victims gunned down at the youth camp made no choices that could have forseeably resulted in their deaths, they were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. As far as the bombing goes I have to admit my heart stopped when I heard a developed country had been bombed. Whilst the act was horrendous I am very glad the "terrorist" was a Norweign national and thus an internal issue. We all know the result of the last bombing on a developed western country by an eastern power.

Rebecca Leighton a twenty-seven year old nurse has been charged with deliberately contaminating bags and ampules of saline with insulin. We use saline for everything, mixing IV powders into liquids to be injected, we add drugs to bags of saline for long duration infusion and we very frequently give saline bags on their own as they are designed to quickly hydrate our patients. Where I work almost every patient has a bag of saline going up constantly. What sickens me is that all of our patients are vulnerable, they have placed their faith in us as nurses and the thought of someone abusing the trust has sent shockwaves throughout the nursing world. There are no good reasons insulin would be introduced into saline unless for immediate use. I just hope that this does not effect how safe my patients feel in my care,  I work really hard to build and maintain the crucial patient-nurse trust. And once again these were victims of the actions of another.

All three cases are tragic however I do feel hundreds of innocents dying superceeds the potential suicide or accidental overdose of a girl who knew which path she was on and where it would ultimately end.


Vincent said...

All three cases were one-offs. They resist generalisation. And so shall I.

Asclepius said...

A fair point, However my concern is more with the priority the national media seems to be allocating these events not necessarily with the events themselves(although perhaps I should be more concerned with the individual cases).

I agree the cases are not going to be repeated, the scale and even category of each event is unique from the other two. As a result I have perhaps tried to group them in order to allow comparison. I suppose that I cant argue with the media prioritisation on the grounds that if they prioritied them differently it would suggest they were somehow on the same scale of measurement.

Vincent said...

Yes, I never noticed the media prioritisation, but on the radio (where I get my news) the doctoring (in appropriate word in the circs) of the saline solution is rather low on the list.

I'll modify my earlier comment about their being one-offs, in that no matter how rare an event, one must consider prevention of its recurrence.

In all three cases a disordered human being is the cause, and most of us would be against increased "security" as a prevention method. In the case of Amy W, there are many who kill themselves slowly with drink or drugs, whether it's considered suicide or not (e.g. George Best). I think we have to call it choice, & let them get on with it, however much distress it causes to their loved ones.

I liked the way that the Norwegians were so quick to emphasise that they don't want to change their society as a result (through increased security, suspicion etc).

As to the hospital business, I'm aware that risk analysis is a constant part of everyone's job there (my wife being a medical secretary in Infection Prevention and Control). Actually she was employed as a secretary/PA in the first place (with university not hospital background), and it was called Infection Control.

What's your view on the procedures for saline? Will it bring about any change?

I take your point about patient trust, but I understand that trust in nurses has almost been wrecked, compared with decades ago, for a variety of reasons, including but not exclusively hospital-caught infections. Which is why I admire your idealism and hope it survives.

Vincent said...

i meant inappropriate

Asclepius said...

I have to admit the Oslo bombing puts me in mind of a speech given by Ken Livingstone when he was Mayor of London on the day of the London Bombings. It is as far as I am concerned one of the most powerful speeches given in recent decades.

"I want to say one thing specifically to the world today. This was not a terrorist attack against the mighty and the powerful. It was not aimed at Presidents or Prime Ministers. It was aimed at ordinary, working-class Londoners, black and white, Muslim and Christian, Hindu and Jew, young and old. It was an indiscriminate attempt to slaughter, irrespective of any considerations for age, for class, for religion, or whatever.

That isn't an ideology, it isn't even a perverted faith - it is just an indiscriminate attempt at mass murder and we know what the objective is. They seek to divide Londoners. They seek to turn Londoners against each other. I said yesterday to the International Olympic Committee, that the city of London is the greatest in the world, because everybody lives side by side in harmony. Londoners will not be divided by this cowardly attack. They will stand together in solidarity alongside those who have been injured and those who have been bereaved and that is why I'm proud to be the mayor of that city.

Finally, I wish to speak directly to those who came to London today to take life.

I know that you personally do not fear giving up your own life in order to take others - that is why you are so dangerous. But I know you fear that you may fail in your long-term objective to destroy our free society and I can show you why you will fail.

In the days that follow look at our airports, look at our sea ports and look at our railway stations and, even after your cowardly attack, you will see that people from the rest of Britain, people from around the world will arrive in London to become Londoners and to fulfil their dreams and achieve their potential.

They choose to come to London, as so many have come before because they come to be free, they come to live the life they choose, they come to be able to be themselves. They flee you because you tell them how they should live. They don't want that and nothing you do, however many of us you kill, will stop that flight to our city where freedom is strong and where people can live in harmony with one another. Whatever you do, however many you kill, you will fail."

This is just an excerpt but I found it stirring and incredibly moving.

As far as my opinion on how to safely store and use saline. We need it so much that to keep it locked and require dual varification is just not practical. I feel how we store it in my hospital is more than sufficient, In a back room on each ward where it allows easy access to the nursing staff but would require a member of the public to be somewhere they obviously werent allowed to access.