Hello and welcome to our Weekly News Summary, bringing you up-to-date news in healthcare and making it relevant to you as a medical school applicant!
This week, we will discuss the following topics: high death rates and the impact of poor professionalism, risks from pollution, and increased number of deaths from sepsis. Not the most cheerful collection of news items!
The main theme we can pull from this story is that of professionalism – this is something medical applicants will be expected to display all the way through the application process. In this very drastic example, we can see the potentially devastating results of poor professionalism, which in this case led to unnecessary deaths. It is inevitable that you will come across people in your working life that you will not get along with, or that you disagree with – how you handle this is hugely important in medicine, as it not only impacts you, but the patients you treat.
Although previous research had deemed that this low level of pollution was safe, new evidence has proven otherwise. This is a good reminder of the constant need for further research, and the importance of not always taking research findings as “fact”, even if they appear to be accepted by the majority. This is not intended to make you too sceptical and think that all research is wrong – but you should be open-minded and always consider that bigger scale and improved quality research may find a different result. It is also worth noting that “new” research isn’t always “better”.
Sepsis is a serious and potentially life-threatening condition, in which the body attempts to respond to an infection, but in doing so can lead to organ failure. The quicker treatment is initiated, the greater the chance of survival. Deaths from sepsis in England appear to be on the rise. Figures are up by one third in the last two years, which is attributed by some to the overcrowding and underfunding suffered by hospitals.
What can we learn from this?
If you’re following our news summaries each week, you may have noticed a recurring theme around the spinning of statistics in the news. This just shows you how common this is in the media – it’s important to be aware of this when analysing any figures which you are presented with. Understanding the examples given in these summaries will hopefully allow you to think critically in any interview situation.
Although at face value the numbers indicate a greater incidence of sepsis mortality, the fact that sepsis is being increasingly recognised and coded may be a hugely contributing factor. For example, increased electronic record keeping will be affecting this. If the diagnosis and documentation of sepsis is improving, this may make it seem like more patients are dying from sepsis – when in fact, it could be the same number as before, but more have been identified.