Treating A Small Cut In An Emergency Room: What’s The Big Deal?


Treating A Small Cut In An Emergency Room: What’s The Big Deal?

A number of years ago, before texting while driving threatened our roads, I was on the interstate when my car dead stopped because of morning traffic. Another car smashed into my vehicle hard from behind. I saw it coming in the rear view mirror and braced myself. Remarkably, given the high speed of his car, the driver of the vehicle suffered only minor injuries. I came out okay too. My only injury was a significant cut to my right ankle because of pressing hard on the brake pedal and being flung against the accelerator .

No problem. I went to the hospital and waited to be treated in the hospital’s emergency room (ER). Given my relatively minor injury, I had a really long wait in the ER. Eventually, an ER medical doctor looked at my ankle and determined it was going to be fine and I was on my way. But that is just the beginning of my story. That same night my ankle started to swell. Like some guys out there, I tried to shake it off thinking it would be better in the morning. I was wrong. Still swollen and getting worse, I went to a patient care facility first thing that morning where I was prescribed antibiotics for my infected ankle. Later that evening, the swelling was moving up my leg and I went back to the patient care facility right away. After taking my history, the nurse had a bad look on her face. She was worried for me. What she did not tell me until much later was how she thought I had a bacterial infection that could not be treated with medical drugs. In other words, she thought there was a good chance that no medical cure existed to treat the horrible swelling headed for my right knee. What? Was that even possible for what was a relatively minor ankle cut the morning before? Fortunately, the IV treatment I received that night worked. I hate to think what would have happened to me had it not.

According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), while antibiotic medicines have saved many lives and greatly reduced illness from infectious diseases, the infectious organisms they are meant to kill have now adapted to antibiotics — making antibiotics less effective and in certain instances completely ineffective. That’s scary. And apparently it’s getting worse. Not just because of too many antibiotics prescribed for people, but also because too many people are digesting antibiotics in their food.

If you do not think that you may be routinely digesting antibiotics, think again. Turkeys, chickens, cows and pigs are routinely fed with high doses of antibiotics which remain during their processing to reduce the risk of illness from Salmonella and E Coli for consumers. Maryn McKenna, a national journalist who follows this issue closely recently wrote a great summary of food borne illnesses and antibiotic use and resistance in food in Wired magazine.  Her summary of the latest developments and the current positions of the CDC and food advocacy groups is a quick and very helpful read.

Of course, this does not apply to all meats. Meats that do not include any use of antibiotics are the clear healthier choice for meat eaters. Folks eating meat, by all means, proceed with great caution and don’t assume anything. Take time to choose meats that meet high standards in natural care. Sadly, the odds are higher these days that it may be a life saving choice. Especially, if you ever find yourself cut on the ankle, waiting for a long time in a hospital emergency room.

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Kirk Schroder / Food Advocate /