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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

November 26, 2008 at 5:25 PM

MRSA

It’s about prioritizing

As registered nurse at Harborview Medical Center, I found The Times recent series of stories on the threat of MRSA in the community to be shortsighted and lacking perspective [“MRSA’s toll climbs, but hospital is slow to change,” Times, News, Nov. 17].

Harborview was portrayed to be flagrantly ignoring precautions that would prevent the spread of MRSA. What the stories didn’t portray were the realities of a busy urban hospital that serves a very sick population.

Any decision to place a MRSA patient in a room with a non-MRSA patient isn’t made out of neglect or ignorance, but out of necessity. When critically ill patients are admitted into our ICU for care, other less-ill patients need to transfer out. The decision comes down to either waiting for a private room to become available in a hospital that is almost always overcapacity, or placing MRSA patients with non-MRSA patients so that critically injured patients can receive lifesaving care as soon as possible.

What your stories fail to address are the difficult choices doctors and nurses make when prioritizing care. This too often means that saving a life takes precedence over ensuring every MRSA patient has a private room. As a level-one trauma center, these are the kinds of choices Harborview staff have to make on a daily basis.

— Sacha Davis, Seattle

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