Saturday, September 30, 2006

Is saving lives just a marketing ploy?

A couple of days ago I said: "School nursing levels are extremely low, yet they play a key role in improving health but hospitals are high profile and save lives."

This question of saving lives has bugged my for years - what does it mean? It certainly doesn't mean saving lives as mortality is as certain as taxes. I vividly remember the first time that I used a defibrilator. I was on a night shift, in charge of the ward and a patient has been admitted an hour or so before with a heart attack. The patient went into ventricular fibriliation (her heart stopped beating) all of a sudden and I was there is a few moments with the defib and shocked her heart which then restarted. A few minutes later the crash team arrived and wanted to know what the fuss was about as my patient was sitting up asking for the loo!

The woman died about a year later. So did I save her life? No. Did I prolong her existance on this earthly plane? Yes. Did she enjoy her extra year? I hope so!

I spent quite some time getting cross every time I heard about a new treatment that would save lives - the whole emotive life / death thing hits people hard. How can we exist without this wonder pill? It almost seems like a marketing ploy.

Of course we should think about promoting good health and look after ourselves and others, these will help prevent early death / chronic disease. We should not kid ourselves that we can save lives - we must be honest with people.

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