Sunday, 23 September 2007

It’s a GUY Thing


Strange pattern to articles I have been reading lately, maybe a sign of changing times, or maybe a sign of how hard it is to get real change to happen. I just came across a really interesting 1859 study on childbed fever. Two sections of a maternity hospital had very different mortality rates for mothers and babies. It seems the sections were all mid-wives in one section and all doctors in the other. The mortality rate for midwives was much lower than the doctors. WHY? The suggestions were incredible. Many believed that the disease was caused by the shock to the delicate system of the ladies when they were exposed to male doctors and interns viewing their “delicate” parts. The real result was found to be that the doctors frequently went from handling cadavers directly to the delivery room without washing their hands, or doing so poorly. Part of the interesting statistics; when asked, 73% of doctors reported they washed their hands before delivery every time. Nurses who were asked to observe and report back if the doctors REALLY washed their hands, reported a greatly different result. Only 9% of doctors coming into delivery washed their hands. Note to Statistics Class: A survey reports what people want you to think about them, not what they really think or do.
Then there was the headline on a Newmarket newspaper laying in the teacher’s lounge when I went down to run off a quiz that one of (perhaps the) last men-only clubs in Newmarket would be forced to admit women. And then out of the blue, a woman invades the dohyo (the raised platform where sumo rikishi do battle) at the Kokugikan, Japan’s principal sumo stadium. The ring is considered sacred, and rebuilt by the Yobidashi for each basho (a series of fifteen matches that occur every month) and blessed by the priests. If it is contaminated by anything unclean the matches must be halted while the dohyo is purified by the Yobidashi, usually with salt. It is not just women who are considered unclean; I have seen five to ten minute delays often when the blood of a rikishi is spilled in the ring. But it is not JUST the dohyo where women are excluded in Japan. The last line of the article pointed out that ,”Women were also banned in the past from climbing mountains or entering mines in Japan.” Yeah, nobody has enough salt to purify a mountain.
And then back to hand-washing, A report from a recent meeting of the American Society for Microbiology says that hand-washing has declined by 6% since 2005. According to the study, the counts were made by “discrete observers” in restrooms. Perhaps Senator Craig could have claimed he was helping confirm the study for his pals in the senate. And who is the culprit? It’s the guys. Men have dropped to 65% on exiting the “loo” from a previous high of 75%. Women have also slacked off a little (he adds defensively) from 90% in 2005 down to 88%.
Strangely, in a telephone survey, 83% of all people report washing hands after using the bathroom at home, but only 75% after changing a diaper???? If all men are pigs, as women protest, sports fans are the biggest pigs. Men observed at Atlanta Braves ball games at Turner Field dropped to 57%. Pass them hot dogs the OTHER way please.

I think my next doctor will be a woman. Preferably one who doesn’t like baseball.
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