Word of the Day: Septicaemia

25 02 2008

Hospital scientist stole bacteria to kill herself
The Guardian: LINK

A biomedical scientist stole bacteria from the hospital where she worked in order to end her life by giving herself septicaemia, it emerged today. Jennifer Bainbridge removed the bacteria – found in MRSA and E coli germs – from North Tyneside general hospital, a health regulator panel heard last week. The 28-year-old said she planned to use the germs to kill herself when she “hit rock bottom” after suffering months of depression.
“I was basically going to give myself septicaemia,” she told the Newcastle Evening Chronicle.
“I just took what was available in the lab, but I made sure they were organisms which were not going to put anyone else at risk.”
At the last minute, she changed her mind and told her managers what she had done. She was suspended from her job last July and dismissed last month.
“Even thinking about it all now makes me upset,” she said, telling the paper that she now had a new job and did not want to work in the NHS again.
She was taken off the health professions council register for 18 months after the chairman of the hearing described her actions as “a matter for grave concern”. Colin Allies said a suspension was “necessary in the public interest and in the interest of the registrant herself”. A spokeswoman for Bainbridge’s former employers, the Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation trust, said the trust had been aware of her history of depression. The spokesman said the trust had taken the scientist off weekend and on call shifts to help her cope.
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What is septicaemia?
Septicaemia is a potentially life-threatening infection in which large amounts of bacteria are present in the blood. It is commonly referred to as blood poisoning. Bacteria usually spill over from the primary infection site into the blood and are carried throughout the body thereby spreading infection to various systems of the body. Infection spreads throughout the body via the blood stream.
The affected person may have symptoms of the associated condition that triggered the septicaemia such as symptoms of pneumonia or severe urinary infection. The condition usually begins with fever and chills. Drenching sweats may occur. The heart rate and respiratory rate (number of breaths per minute) rise in association with the rising fever. The affected individual will feel very ill indeed with profound feelings of weakness. As the condition evolves the person may begin to feel very cold and clammy. The blood pressure starts to fall and the person may lapse into unconsciousness. The skin becomes very pale and the person may exhibit petechiae. Petechiae are tiny spots on the skin, which do not blanch when a glass tumbler is applied to the skin.

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