bacteria hospital deaths precautions antibiotics

Common Sense Vs. Food & Health
food waste exports

Killer Bacteria & Wasted Food Are Solvable

Doctors make you sick, wasted food could make you healthy, and paying for land indirectly promotes health. We trim, blend, and append three 2012 articles from (1) USA Today, Aug 23, on bacteria by the Editors, (2) Los Angeles Times, Aug 21, on food by T. Hsu, and (3) Labour Land Campaign, Aug 10, on exports.

by USA Today Editors, by Tiffany Hsu, and Labour Land Campaign

A sometimes-lethal infection, Clostridium difficile, or C. diff, thrives in hospitals and causes excruciating pain. C. diff -- a bacteria linked to more than a half-million illnesses and 30,000 deaths a year in the U.S. -- can be dramatically reduced with reasonable precautions.

Many hospitals fail to take these precautions which is both bewildering and inexcusable. Preventing these needless infections would not only save lives but millions of dollars in health care costs.

C. diff spreads in two ways. Sometimes doctors use broad-spectrum antibiotics when they're not necessary, killing not only the bacteria they target but healthy bacteria in the intestines that keep C. diff at bay. The second route is the easy spread of C. diff spores from infected patients through fecal contamination. The hard-to-kill spores are carried, often by hospital personnel, from bathroom fixtures to light switches, doorknobs, bedrails, and other high-touch surfaces.

While it can be difficult to change ingrained habits at large institutions, the prescription to cut C. diff rates is fairly simple:

•Effective cleaning. The use of disinfectants that kill C. diff spores and new cleaning methods, such as ultraviolet lights or vaporized chemicals, can prevent its spread. At the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn., daily cleaning of all "high-touch surfaces" in rooms with disinfectant wipes cut infection rates by more than 30% in two units with the highest incidence of C. diff.

•Patient isolation. Vital steps include segregating C. diff patients quickly, wearing disposable gowns and gloves when treating them, and washing hands consistently between visits. Basic as such rules sound, many institutions don't follow them.

•Antibiotic stewardship. Education programs and guidelines can reduce the unnecessary use of antibiotics whose potency can backfire. Hospitals must also empower pharmacists to oversee use of broad-spectrum antibiotics and track their usage.

So why, when people are needlessly suffering and dying, isn't this happening everywhere? Several hospitals have drastically cut C. diff rates without huge expense. Cincinnati's Jewish Hospital-Mercy Health slashed high C. diff rates in half in less than a year with a program that costs just $10,000 annually.

What's standing in the way at other institutions seems more a matter of money, ego, and lack of will. Doctors, many of whom are not hospital employees, bristle at being told what antibiotics to use or not to use. And too many hospital administrators, beset by other problems, do not make C. diff a high priority.

To read more

JJS: You ever hear the saying, the best medicine is the best food and vice versa? If people ate healthfully, they’d be able to resist the germs that live everywhere, even in our bodies. Oddly, Americans throw away some of the best medicine!

Americans are throwing out nearly every other bite of food, wasting up to 40 percent of the country's supply each year -- a mass of uneaten provisions worth $165 billion. An average family of four squanders $2,275 in food each year.

Food waste is the largest single portion of solid waste cramming American landfills. Since the 1970s, the amount of uneaten fare that is dumped has jumped 50 percent. The average American trashes 10 times as much food as a consumer in Southeast Asia.

Such profligacy occurs in a time of record drought, high food prices expected to go higher, and families unable to afford food. Efforts are already in place in Europe to cut back on food waste.

In the U.S., unsold fruits and vegetables are worth $15 billion annually.

Wasted food eats up a quarter of all freshwater consumed in the U.S. along with 4 percent of the oil while producing 23 percent of the methane emissions.

To read more

JJS: Some of that food comes a long way just be wasted, and some of the people traveling -- for work or play -- bring bacteria with them, unknowingly. But people don’t transport food or carry germs only across borders but also within borders. If we’re to curb the spread of germs, we could inspect freight after it travels a certain distance, whether it crosses a border or not. And if we're to quit needlessly exporting “coal to Newcastle”, we could make land more available. Both it and the people on it would be healthier.

Two pieces of recent economic data highlight why Britain’s economy is both sluggish and unfair.

First, UK exports fell 4.6% between May and June, with a drastic 8.4% drop in exports of goods over the same period; imports fell by only 0.7%.

Second, foreign investors own 23% of the UK’s property market. This is an increase of 106% over 8 years.

It is not the value of building that has increased, they depreciate over time like any man-made object. It is the value of the land the buildings sit upon that has increased.

This land value is created by the community. One site is more valuable than another because of its proximity to better public services, more productive industry, better transport links, etc. A field in the middle of London is vastly more valuable than an identical one in rural Cornwall, say.

This value accrues as land rent to the landlord under current arrangements and it is this rent that has attracted foreign property investors. Exporting land rent is a great British success story.

Perversely, this high rent makes it very difficult for those businesses that could be exporting goods and services. Land is a primary factor of production and is a large cost to many consumers and productive enterprises making our exports uncompetitive.

It does not need to be this way. This rent could be recovered. We could then reduce or repeal taxes on wages, buildings, capital goods, and trade such as Income Tax, Council Tax, Business Rates, and VAT. This would immediately make British companies very competitive.

It would also end the speculative hoarding of land. Land, rather than sitting idle, would become cheaply available for homes and factories, allowing the productive sector of our economy to grow. British consumers and producers would benefit extraordinarily.

To read more

JJS: If society collected the rent for all sites, we’d also recover the rents for the land that hospitals sit on. Minus that current privilege of non-taxed land, doctors might see a dip in income and patients might see a dip in arrogance. Plus, where land costs less, local farms could afford to be closer to town so food would be fresher, more nutritious, and have zero shelf-life, so residents might relearn to eat it while it's still fresh.


Editor Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics and helped prepare a course for the UN on geonomics. To take the “Land Rights” course, click here .

Also see:

There a Discount for Bacteria and Pathogens?

Uncounted food and energy inflation hurts retirees

Prosperous Places Trade A Lot

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