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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

February 23, 2009 at 2:53 PM

Reporting on MRSA

Leading edge in misleading journalism

The Feb. 19 article, “State doctors’ group opposes mandatory MRSA screening” [Local News], represents the leading edge in misleading journalism. The lack of direct quotes from a medical professional speaks volumes.

I noticed the same thing in the original misleading Seattle Times series on MRSA. Could it be that while many professionals spoke with reporters, these reporters chose not to use any of their quotes?

Just one day earlier The Seattle Times printed a Los Angeles Times story indicating bloodstream infections from MRSA have dropped 50 percent in the last decade. My journalism teacher would have told me to provide more balance and more context. He knew that type of “journalism” doesn’t serve the public’s interest, but, rather, misleads the public and makes them more anxious, in order to sell newspapers.

The Seattle Times editors should know that too.

— Susan Stoltzfus, Woodinville

Pulling the plug on the real issue

The MRSA article in the Feb. 19 Times is interesting as far as it goes, but it fails to explain why the Washington State Medical Association opposes bills in both the House and Senate.

I assume they have reasons for their opposition, the reporting of which would help readers like myself better understand the issue.

As it is, the article reads like a plug for The Times’ great reporting on the rise in MRSA infections in Washington state hospitals.

— Eric Weissman, Lake Forest Park

Twisting the numbers

I read your article on MRSA by Mary Engel [“Dramatic Drop in MRSA Found,” News, Feb. 18] with great interest. The MRSA-infection rate in hospitals is shameful, especially since tightening basic-sanitation procedures could cut the infection rate exponentially.

About five years ago, my grandmother was infected by MRSA through improper sterilization during minor-back surgery. While fighting off the infection, she came close to dying several times.

My grandmother is a retired nurse. She was horrified by how the nurses, aides and doctors dealt with the contagious nature of her illness during her stay. She once mentioned that the sheets on her hospital bed, which had come into contact with fluid from her infected-surgery wound and should have been washed and sterilized separately, were instead thrown in with the other sheets from that floor for a quick wash.

Shortly afterward, several other people on her floor came down with MRSA.

Mary Engel has twisted the study to say something it doesn’t. The study claims there has been a drop in MRSA infection during a centerline procedure, not an overall drop. In fact, overall MRSA-infection numbers continue to rise.

— Patrick Andrews, Mill Creek

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