You're right to an extent there Lucy. After all, if a doctor gives a drug to a patient and it kills them, it's the doctor who's sued. The pharmaceutical company (whose research is funded by people with an interest in getting the product out and making money from it, not in finding a cure because cured people don't need drugs) get off scot free. Unless it kills lots of people, and then only maybe. I give you Misoprostil, successfully used to treat stomach ulcers but with the unfortunate side effect of causing miscarriage, so it's been used to induce labour in some units, despite not being licensed for the purpose. It's usually the government which ends up paying out the compensation, not the big pharmas. However in the case of Vitamin K, it's given for only one reason, which is that it was successfully used to treat Haemorrhagic Disease of the Newborn and so the decision was made to use it profilactically because babies are born with low levels of Vit K and that's obviously a mistake by mother nature. Which is a bit like taking an aspirin every day on the off-chance that you might get a headache. The problem with that is, what do you do when you get a headache and you've already got the maximum dose in your system?
You're also right about the risks. They might be 1 in a million, but whilst you're most likely to be among the 999,999, you could be the 1. For instance, my sister was on all sorts of medication for her asthma. She started experiencing various side effects which basically resulted in her endocrine system shutting down. The doctors all insisted that it couldn't possibly be the medication she was on because whilst the various symptoms were each listed side effects of the various medications, they were all rare. And for someone to get them all was so rare as to be incredible (around the order of 1:28 billion - just over 4 times the number of people on the planet). Strangely enough though, when they realised they'd been treating her using her husband's chest x-rays from when he'd had pneumonia by mistake
and started actually treating her
, they changed the 5 different inhalers she was using 3 times a day each to just one of a different type, twice a day, all her symptoms started to clear up. Hmmmm.
And finally, infections. The best place to be if you want to get an infection is a hospital. The temperature is kept at just the right level for the bugs to flourish and the staff going from one patient to another need to wash their hands between each patient and change gloves for each patient. Whilst that happens now (in most units at least) it didn't used to. Going back a long way, let's not forget, Mrs Beeton died from childbed fever (postpartum infection) because the doctor who came to deliver her baby had just come from laying out a corpse and didn't wash his hands, so it's not like this is new information. Yet still it's only recently, with the spread of MRSA, C-Dificil and the like, that hand-washing practices have been updated. But for all the anti-bacterial this and anti-septic that, the bugs have survived. More than that, they've thrived, mutated and multiplied. The least we can all do to try to stop the spread is wash our hands. And that should be everyone who sets foot in a ward. Visitors, cleaners, admin staff, doctors, nurses and everyone else.
I love debates like these. Shall we talk about induction next?