Infection: Failure?

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MANILA, Philippines - "I will drink Potions of eisel 'gainst my strong infection" - William Shakespeare (1564-1616), English poet and playwright Sonnets 111 (1609)The headline of a major newspaper last week screamed: "2nd Surgery on GMA Fails." As a clinician, I take exception to this angle of reportage that equates an infection with failure. The fact is an infection after surgery is a known and possible complication. And an infection after surgery is just like passing personal gas in an elevator car - no one likes it, no one wants it, no one expects it, but it happens. Koch's Postulates. Any doctor worth his white coat believes, and is guided by the germ theory of disease. If not, he is no different from quacks and charlatans who blame evil spirits and bad vibrations as causes of infection. Microbiologists Drs. Robert Koch and Friedrich Loeffler in 1884 attempted to explain disease as a result of a microbe (causative agent). To establish that an organism is the cause of disease, "it must found in all cases of the disease examined, while absent in healthy organisms, prepared and maintained in a pure culture, capable of producing the original infection, even after several generations in culture and retrievable from an inoculated animal and cultured again." These later were known as Koch's postulates and any 2nd year medical student knows this by heart. In the case of former President Arroyo, the operative site is teeming with bacteria from the throat. Also, in times of stress and worry, susceptibility to infection rises. GMA's Luck. The eminent specialist journal Spine (2011 Apr 1; 36 [7]:556-63) recently reported the rates of infection after spine surgery based on 108,419 procedures. The total infection rate was 2.1% and in the subgroup of degenerative spine diseases (Rep. …