Super Crunchers: stories of numbers

There is a really interesting book called “Super Crunchers”. I found it enlightening and relevant. In the book, among other number crunching applications, statistic based medical diagnosis is discussed. “House” was inspired by Lisa Sanders’ “Diagnosis” column in the New York Times Sunday Magazine. Before becoming a doctor Lisa was an Emmy Award winning producer for CBS.
The following medical fact from the book is shocking. An Austrian physician Ignaz Semmelweis in the early 1840’s studied the rate of mortality in a maternity ward. He realized that mortality rates went from 12 to 2 percent when the doctors washed thier hands before seeing a patient. Unbelievable to us today, but at the time doctors complained that it was a waste of their time and the doctor who first advocated hand washing was eventually fired and died in a mental hospital at 47.

We have had handwashing campaigns going on at our hospital a few times over the years. It is still human nature to disregard this evidence and patients still get infections at injection sites.

Sigh……Its all too much sometimes.

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