Reporting Scotland lies again to fool a mother and to keep her torment on our screens

A person standing in front of a body of water

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In a strangely upbeat manner, we heard today:

‘The mother of a girl who died FROM an infection at Glasgow’s ‘Super Hospital’ has told Reporting Scotland she believes her daughter would still be alive if action had been taken when contamination risks were discovered.’

Here is the death certificate:

A screenshot of text

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I’m not a medic but it seems quite clear that the infection was a possible third contributory factor in four in, a tragic death, caused by multiple factors and that the assertion that the child died ‘from’ an infection is patently inaccurate. That the infection was even ‘linked to’ contaminated water cannot be proven as tests were not required at the time. The claim is a tragic attempt to politicise the events, heartlessly exploiting the mother of the child.

The report goes on to claim that ‘Earlier this week an official report found a spike in infections around the time of Millie’s death at the hospital.’

This is also untrue. The word ‘spike’ is not used because the increase in cases reported is statistically insignificant. The false impression of a spike which has clearly fooled BBC Scotland staff and their feeder, Anas Sarwar, would be understandable in a primary school pupil but not after that stage. Here it is:

A screenshot of a cell phone

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It’s a classic often seen in attempts to dramatize the insignificant. There were 400 children being treated at the same time as the tragic events and thousands over the longer period presented along the vertical axis of the graph. So, the vertical axis should not stop conveniently at 25 but should rise to at least 400 and only that if the figures along the horizontal axis are reduced from quarterly figures to daily figures. The maximum number of reports in one quarter was around twenty. That would be 1 in every 3 to 4 days or less than one out of 400 patients in a day being referred in this way.  Can you see the graph now? The so-called spike would then be accurately represented as a barely visibly blip. There was no ‘spike’. The mother has been tricked by politicians and reporters.

Published by johnrobertson834

Retired Professor of Media Politics Not-for-profit independent political analysis

13 thoughts on “Reporting Scotland lies again to fool a mother and to keep her torment on our screens

  1. Hi John,

    Hope this helps understand:

    The way to read the causes of death on any death certificate is as a sequence (it was actually written this way on the old paper forms before computerisation).

    Section I
    a) final cause of death
    b) disease or condition leading to a)
    c) disease or condition leading to b)
    d) disease or condition leading to c)

    Section II unrelated condition or disease contributing to death

    So d) leads to c) leads to b) leads to a)
    Line sepsis is listed as ‘Possibly’ the cause of c) multi organ failure that led to b) blood not clotting properly that led to a) brain haemorrhage

    Anyone trying to make political capital out of this tragedy is completely beneath contempt

    Like

      1. The simplest way to understand the certificate is:
        ->d). Relapsed Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia
        -> c). Multi System Organ Failure
        -> b). Coagulopathy (blood not clotting properly)
        ->a). Acute Subarachnoid Haemorrhage (brain bleed)

        The certifier provides additional information, that is:
        d). Requiring recent bone marrow transplantation (indicating that further non-transplant management was not viable)
        c). Gives a Possible cause for the Multi System Organ Failure

        The certificate is not categorical regarding the cause of the Multi System Organ Failure but gives infection as a possible cause (finding an organism doesn’t automatically make it the explanation). There may or may not be more detail in other reports or investigations but it is not possible to know from the image whether this is answered elsewhere.

        The visible Part I of the certificate is commendably detailed. Many certificates are much more telegraphic (along the lines of just what is in my first paragraph). The certifier seems to have worked hard to be open and has put as much information as possible into a limited space.

        This is a very sad death of a child.

        I repeat my contempt for any politician or news outlet who tries to use the family for their own ends

        Liked by 1 person

      2. To clarify regarding my ‘more detail in other reports or investigations’, this is absolutely normal.

        The death registration system has evolved over decades try to be both compassionate and complete.

        The old paper based system had a part where the doctor could indicate to the registrar ‘further information may be available’, I presume the computer version will still have a similar mechanism.

        This allowed the doctor to avoid delay issuing a certificate (with consequent added distress to family trying to make funeral arrangements) if they knew the cause of death even if further detail might later become available (lab tests or other investigations). This would alert the registrar that there might be further information making the entry more complete arriving later. That is not visible on this image so it’s not possible to know if further information was expected or not.

        If further information has become available since the certificate was issued, the recorded elements regarding infection might be amended to reflect infection either confirmed or dismissed as the cause of part c), or it might remain as it is -‘Possibly’. It would be very unusual for the certificate to require a complete re-write of the fundamental causes.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. It takes a lot of courage to point out the fallacies and/or uncertainties in this series of reports by BBC Scotland, because of the deep emotions involved. The mother and other family members will have had an appalling experience during the illness and death of the child. So, to be seen to be challenging the basis for the mother’s current, understandable outrage is to leave one open to charges of heartlessness.

    We want our hospitals and other public buildings to be as safe as possible for those who have to use them and for those who work there, so, it is important to check them continuously. While there might, indeed, be culpability on behalf of some individual or individuals and, such a person or persons should be subject to appropriate disciplinary procedures. But, that, of itself, does not SOLVE the problem. It might contribute to changing the culture in a constructive way. But, it cannot restore a deceased person nor the health of someone who has been irreversibly harmed. There should, of course be efforts to ameliorate effects and to provide some kind of ‘closure’. This is not easy.

    We only have to look at how the media have used the grief of Mrs Fergus, the mother of the murdered toddler, Jamie Bulger, to whip up nasty public feelings against the two perpetrators, who, we must remember, were children themselves. This is the very worst of witch-hunting and mob rule.

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  3. Does anyone know if this “official report” is publicly available? Link?

    Not a health professional & I’d never previously heard of Stenotrophomonas maltophilia – but interesting to note the following from Wikipedia “…(it) is ubiquitously present in the environment and impossible to eradicate, which makes prevention also extremely difficult.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This summary from GARD:
      “”Stenotrophomonas maltophilia (S. maltophilia) infection is a type of bacterial infection. S. maltophilia is found mostly in wet environments. In the hospital setting, S. maltophilia can be found in fluids, such as irrigation solutions (fluids used to clean a wound or wash out a body cavity like the ear canal or bladder) and intravenous (IV) fluids, as well as patient secretions, such as mucus from the respiratory tract and urine. The bacteria causes problems mainly in people who have a weakened immune system.[1][2][3] To cause infections in healthy people, S maltophilia must bypass the normal human defenses, as can happen with the use of certain medical devices, such as catheters or IV lines. People who are hospitalized and receiving treatment for other serious medical conditions may be more susceptible to an infection, especially if their immune system is weakened. Symptoms vary depending on the area of the body infected.[1][2]

      Diagnosis of S. maltophilia infection, along with other bacterial infections, may be suspected by symptoms and risk factors. A culture of body fluids, such a blood, urine, sputum, or abdominal fluid, is used to confirm the specific type of bacteria. A consultation with an infectious disease specialist is important to differentiate bacterial colonization (where the bacteria are found in the body but do not cause symptoms) from an infection and to determine the best treatment options. [1][2] “”

      https://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/diseases/9772/stenotrophomonas-maltophilia-infection

      From this it would appear that there are several routes by which this bacterium can cause infections not solely via the water contamination.

      Liked by 1 person

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