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Up yours

Over at my home blog I have a recurring blog post 'From the Silly News Desk'. This story out of Russia would definitely qualify.

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russians visiting a health resort received a rude shock when a nurse used hydrogen peroxide instead of water to give them enemas. Itar-Tass news agency reported Thursday that 17 tourists in the Caucasus spa town of Yessentuki had to be treated in hospital after the mix-up.

Sources at the sanatorium said the mistake was explained by water and hydrogen peroxide looking the same. Hydrogen peroxide, which can be used to bleach hair, is used as a disinfectant but should not be ingested.

This kind of medical carelessness would be worthy of a Knucklehead award except for one thing. Reuters doesn't name the sanatorium.

Foreign news stories lacking names is common practice. Reuters does this all the time, and Associated Press is almost as bad. Why write a news story without naming people or firms? I don't know about you, but the news becomes incomplete to me without this information. Isn't the who, what, where, when, how, and why aka the 5 W's still practiced by these journalists?

I've gotten around Reuters and AP's name deletions in the past sometimes. Like in the story of Andrew Tilley, whose fame comes from shooting a rocket out of his buttocks. Or the case of Philippine thief Enrique Alcantara who while fleeing the police called a time out. In both cases I found a local news source that was willing to name names. The locals at least haven't forgotten one of the fundamentals taught in Journalism 101.


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Comments (6)

The drugstore version of hy... (Below threshold)

The drugstore version of hydrogen peroxide is more dilute and safe enough even to clean a plugged up ear as long as it is diluted slighty with some water and used with an eyedropper or other means in nursing. However, the chemical version of hydrogen peroxide is a far more dangerous product that can cause burns or even has an explosive potential if it comes in contact or is mixed with certain other chemicals. It was likely an undiluted or stronger version of the hydrogen peroxide in order to cause injury to the victims in Russia.

Paul, it is exceedingly unl... (Below threshold)
Brian the Adequate:

Paul, it is exceedingly unlikely that a hospital would have a use for concentrated hydrogen peroxide. The patients probably got the 3%? (might be 0.3%, but what is a order of magnitude among friends) concentration solution similar to what you can buy in any drugstore. This would be more than enough to cause intense pain when it contacted the mucous membranes of the rectum. If you are of the age to remember having it poured on you scrapes or cuts you can probably relate.

I have worked with concentrated hydrogen peroxide in the lab and can give first hand evidence that it does burn the skin on ones hands quite readily. Also, if memory serves, it is clear and colorless like water, but noticeably more viscous so it would be difficult to mistake it for water. I am not a doctor, but given what it did to my skin, the story would probably have dead people in it if concentrated was used.

Score 1 Brian, -1 Paul.... (Below threshold)

Score 1 Brian, -1 Paul.

As an aside, a milk and molasses enema is very effective in stubborn constipation and guaranteed to piss off and gross out the unlucky aide or nurse that has to prepare and administer it.

Bryan, Russia probably has ... (Below threshold)

Bryan, Russia probably has far more lax standards on some cleaning chemicals than the U.S. allows, and a stronger form of hydrogen peroxide allowed only for industrial cleaning purposes could have been used, but certainly not a pure grade that would be chemically hazardous and potentially explosive if it comes in contact with other chemicals. That alone would cause problems. Normally drugstore hydrogen peroxide only causes some foaming. I get cuts everyday in the work I do and sometimes use hydrogen peroxide to wash out cuts that could have rust or other contamination in them.But what do I know, my sister is only an RN and explained to me the uses of hydrogen peroxide before in ear cleaning, wound treatment and other medical purposes.

Paul, imagine putting 3% hy... (Below threshold)

Paul, imagine putting 3% hydrogen peroxide up your nose or on the conjunctiva of your eye. Just don't do it. That's mucosa, not squamous epithelium. You'll find squamous epithelium on your skin, the external ear canal. Oh, and if you keep putting it on a cut, it takes a long time to heal because it keep killing the surface cells trying to regenerate. 3% H2O2 un the rectum into the rectal and sigmoid mucosa would cause serious burns and possibly permanent scarring. In addition, the gas production might cause some serious overpressure problems and perforation of the colon, depending upon the relative health of the colon and how high up the stuff was placed.

Very good point about the r... (Below threshold)

Very good point about the reporting. If one were to compile a journalism text book right now, the media -- including supposed straight-up news bureaux like Reuters and AP -- would furnish plenty examples of how not to do it. Not to consider yourself an executive at whom a summary might be aimed, for example.

It's a little depressing, actually, especially if you're a commentator who relies on the reporting of others. Even if it's from a news organisation that is supposed to have a reputation for professionalism and reliability, you simply can't assume a story is accurate or complete without having double- and triple-checked it first, or having added extensive research of your own.






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