Because Tim Blair gets political commentry about Australia from Taiwan, it comes as no surprise that he gets his commentry on the States from England, from one Gerald Warner who reckons that Obama’s attempts to create a “Union of Soviet States of America” will fail and that he will be a one-term president. I think it is more likely that Warner has his fingers on a gin and tonic than on the pulse of the American people, but this claim intrigued me:
The one glimmer of realism [Obama] displayed was when he recently told an audience in Montana that, with regard to health care, he was “not in favour of the British system”. Perhaps he had just seen the latest figures from the Office of National Statistics revealing that more than 30,000 people have died in England and Wales from hospital infections in just five years. Translated proportionately into American demographics, that would be 150,000 fatalities. Not the best advertisement for socialised health care.
But, according the CDC:
In American hospitals alone, healthcare-associated infections account for an estimated 1.7 million infections and 99,000 associated deaths each year.
That’s about 500,000 deaths over five years, over three times the rate reported by Warner. Seems like maybe it is a good advertisement for socialised health care after all.
But since Warner is so careless with his facts, it would be a mistake not to check his claims about deaths from hospital infections in England and Wales, and sure enough, he got it wrong
The number of people dying due to MRSA and Clostridium difficile fell sharply last year but the superbug infections were still responsible for 30,000 deaths in five years, figures show. …
The number of death certificates mentioning MRSA — methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus — also fell by 23 per cent over the same period, to 1,230, the second year running that mentions have fallen.
So the number Warner gave wasn’t deaths from hospital infections at all — some infections with MRSA and C. difficile occur outside hospitals, and there are other infections that kill people in hospitals as well.
I couldn’t find the death rate from C. difficile in the USA, but for MRSA we have:
Using data from the ongoing Active Bacterial Core surveillance system, Klevens and colleagues looked at the incidence of invasive MRSA disease in nine US communities in 2005, and extrapolated from these to estimate the burden for the whole country. Based on their figures, the authors estimate that the rate of invasive MRSA for the whole country is 31.8 per 100,000. …
In total across the country, the authors estimate that there were 18,650 deaths from invasive MRSA in 2005.
In other words, the death rate from MRSA in the USA is about three times that of the UK. Seems like maybe it is a good advertisement for socialised health care after all.