Nosocomial Epidemics, R0, and the Hippocratic Oath
Glenn Web, Vanderbilt University
Location: Stevenson 1206
nos-o-co-mi-al (adjective) - originating or occurring in a hospital
“get down R0, know your place, do not torment the human race”
primum non nocere – first, do no harm
Nosocomial epidemics are an increasing threat to society. The microbes that cause these epidemics are increasingly resistant to antibiotics. In the US they cause more than 100,000 deaths each year and that number is increasing. R0 (pronounced R-naught) is a quantity derived from mathematical models that predict the course of an epidemic. It is obtained from various parameters that determine the transmission dynamics of the infection. If R0 < 1, then the epidemic will abate. If R0 > 1, then the epidemic will worsen. The Hippocratic oath is the promise of physicians to not make the condition of a patient worse. It is the fundamental precept of medicine. I will tell you how all these are connected. I will also tell you how to avoid being infected by a nosocomial infection. Nosocomial infections occur in specific locations in the US, and only in these locations. You will never suffer a nosocomial infection if you do not go to one of these locations. I will tell you where these locations are.