Naked Doctors Without Computers ... Or This
May 2, 2006 9:23 PM   Subscribe

Fomites, fomites everywhere. We all know that handwashing (or Purelling) is a great way to prevent the spread of nosocomial infections in hospital. But now that we know that stethoscopes, white coats, neckties, medical charts, and computer keyboards can all harbor harmful bacteria, what's a doctor to do? Two words: robot doctors.
posted by scblackman (12 comments total)
In the good old days, it was well understood that hospitals or doctor's offices were some of the best places to catch a disease that would kill you.

That is why in the good old days doctors would make house calls because most people would freak out at the notion of going to a hospital.

Hospitals are the best place to breed multi-resistant microbes. There you have have the full range of all the antibiotic drugs, and the full range of their targets. Bacteria usually develop drug resistance not by the long erratic process of mutations and evolution but through lateral gene transfer from an entirely different species of bacteria that has a resistance gene.

What better place to find a large collection of drug resistant diseases than in a hospital. Both the diversity of microbes and drugs ensure that hospitals are the hot spot of resistance evolution.

Home care and housecalls would help. But doctoring has been driven to the point that that would not be economical
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 10:10 PM on May 2, 2006

I will do the happydance now.
posted by longsleeves at 10:13 PM on May 2, 2006

Good lord, that robot surgeon dredged up an old passage from a William Gibson short story:

There was no blood at all. The manipulator is a clean machine, able to do a no-mess job in zero g, vacuuming the blood away. She'd died just before Hiro had blown the hatch, her right arm spread out across the white plastic work surface like a medieval drawing, flayed, muscles and other tissues tacked out in a neat symmetrical display, held with a dozen stainless-steel dissecting pins. She bled to death. A surgical manipulator is carefully programmed against suicides, but it can double as a robot dissector, preparing biologicals for storage.
She'd found a way to fool it. You usually can, with machines, given time.

posted by quite unimportant at 10:34 PM on May 2, 2006

Before we get too excited about the future, let us not forget about the past. It has almost been almost five years since the world's first robotic transatlantic telesurgery.
posted by Staggering Jack at 11:10 PM on May 2, 2006

Then we inch closer to entertaining scenarios similar to those in William S. Burroughs' Naked Lunch.
posted by deusdiabolus at 11:37 PM on May 2, 2006

It's a pity that you can't work the word "nosocomial" into more conversations.
posted by GuyZero at 6:21 AM on May 3, 2006

Or fomite ... gotta love fomite.
posted by scblackman at 7:12 AM on May 3, 2006

Also if Americands are exposed to foreign countries and don't rub their hands with that disinfectant gel stuff every five minutes they DIE HORRIBLY! It's deseased world out there and you must consume as many products as possibloe to defend yourself against it!
posted by Artw at 7:53 AM on May 3, 2006

It's worth taking a lot of these MRSA scares with a pinch of salt, especially if the source is a journalist scrabling for a story.
posted by Artw at 9:05 AM on May 3, 2006

It is surprizing to anyone that these things ( stethoscopes, white coats, neckties, medical charts, and computer keyboards, etc) can harbour harmful bacteria? It's seems pretty bleedin' obvious. They go so far as to say that the highest concentrations of bacteria were on the cuffs & pockets of the lab coats. Anyone who has washed a well-used coat (moms of MeFi raise your hands) could have told you this.

I guess it's a case of confirming what seems logical - and maybe evaluating the extent of the problem.

This should be difficult reading for germophobes.
posted by raedyn at 10:56 AM on May 3, 2006

So, washing your hands is bad?

I could have told them that. I don’t wash my hands I put them under a gamma ray burst before I eat and after I use the bathroOOARGH!!!
*rips through shirt, pants*

Gotta say I like those robot doctors tho
posted by Smedleyman at 12:38 PM on May 3, 2006

Actually, scblackman, the singular form is 'fomes', although it appears 'fomite' has weaseled its way into acceptability...
posted by oats at 3:22 PM on May 3, 2006

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