Top Quotes of the Week (Part 1)

I hear some strange things in this place. Most of them come from my friends, but every now and again a lecturer throws out a real gem.

Because I spend a lot of my time thinking in rhymes, I often imagine the kinds of poems (or even posts) that I could create from some of the funnier/stranger/sadder things I hear. But by the time I have the time to think up these pieces of literary genius, I just want to go to sleep.

So I’ve decided to meet myself halfway. I’m starting a new little mini-series of quotes. At the end of each week, I’ll throw out a post compiling the best tidbits I’ve picked up. Hopefully I’ll maintain the stream. So, without further ado, this week’s version of


This is a reconstruction of a story our Microbiology lecturer told us while we were discussing infections of the Upper and Lower Respiratory tracts:

When I was an enthusiastic registrar in Pathology–despite never having paid much attention in my microbiology lectures in medschool– a lab tech came in with a sore throat one day. And we all decided it would be fun to culture a swab from his throat and give him a definitive diagnosis. Of course, I’d already decided that he had a Strep pyogenes infection, so when the result came back that this was indeed the organism responsible, I happily wrote out a prescription for penicillin and sent him on his way.

A week later, he came back saying he felt infinitely better and was grateful for my help. Proudly, I suggested we take another swab just to be sure that he was free of the pathogen. You can imagine my horror when, right there, the S. pyogenes organism sat, as plentiful as ever. I could hardly believe it.

A kind, older lab tech saw me prescribing more penicillin for the ‘sick’ tech, and called me aside. I was afraid he would reprimand my careless diagnostic skills, but he seemed amused.

Annie, why are you prescribing more antibiotics?

Because, although his symptoms are gone, the infectious agent clearly hasn’t left his throat.

Were you hoping to not find any S. pyogenes at all?

Of course! Isn’t that the point?

Annie, there are two end-points to antibiotic therapy. A clinical response and getting rid of all the bacteria that were causing the infection. Now, you achieved the first, although that probably would have happened without the penicillin in any case. However, the only way to achieve the second would be to autoclave that technologist. Were you not taught in medschool that Strep pyogenes is part of the normal flora of the throat?


(Stunned into silence)

The same lecturer was talking to us a few minutes later about Nosocomial infections when she deftly commented:

You will probably kill off more patients with bad hand hygiene than bad medical practice.


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