I’m struck by the desire of the Welsh Government Health Department to encourage Health Boards in Wales to increase transparency in relation to Healthcare Associated Infection, which is commendable but as my title suggests, if we are not careful, may confuse our local population and in the worst case scenario, lead to anxiety.
As regular readers will be aware, I have a long abiding concern over the harms we can inflict on our patients and their relatives and said much in this area in my article, “Should I be worried about Healthcare Associated Infections“. I became very interested in the science of psychoneuroimmunology when working as a medical officer within the Royal Navy. Training members of the armed services has always required significant investment. The fitness of the Royal Marines is well recognised but as a medical officer with the Navy, we were well aware that despite a careful selection process, there were always young men who would not get through the training programme.
When I moved into my specialist field of microbiology, I was invited to work with the RM training establishment and investigate with a team whether we could identify any physical, emotional, immunological or other laboratory markers that might predict young men who would be more likely to succeed with their training. This was not possible on an individual basis. However, we demonstrated a clear population effect between the stresses of training and a variety of immunological markers. This has been replicated in many medical studies, again looking at different groups of people. Other studies have shown how our emotions can influence our immune systems. Increasingly, we are becomming aware that psyconeuroimmunology is the science of wellbeing, which of course also underlies why I remain so interested in wellbeing and was keen to include this in the title of this website.
My article, “Smile and the world smiles with you” and linked article explore this in more detail.
My concerns therefore remain around the anxiety I have seen induced in some patients and relatives in relation to healthcare associated infections and the preoccupation with the likes of MRSA and Clostridium difficille. The article on Surveillance includes part of the discussion with the National Assembly’s Audit Committee, where again these issues were aired. With the new requirement that health boards should publish data on their own web sites, Hywel Dda Health Board has begun to develop the required pages. You may access the information here. I have sought to influence the text because of the concerns I have expressed in this article. Do please feel free to visit these pages and comment. Comments are subject to moderation, not least because there is often a desire to ask personal health questions and these should be directed to your own healthcare advisors. However, the website aims to provide generic answers to questions relating to all aspects on microbiology, infection control and their links to your wellbeing.