Friday, April 20, 2012

Did "Getting to Zero" contribute to the death of Facts?

The Chicago Tribune just published an obituary for "Facts, 360 B.C.-A.D. 2012", stating that it finally succumbed after years of fighting against the 24-7 cable news cycle and the internet. Apparently, the final straw was when "Florida Republican Rep. Allen West steadfastly declared that as many as 81 of his fellow members of the U.S. House of Representatives are communists."  I can see how that could do it; even enterococcal bacteremia can kill you if you're already close to dead (i.e. APACHE II score ~70). After first checking to make sure I wasn't reading the Onion or QFever, I realized that Facts probably did die, as I think it died in infection prevention several years ago.

We've written often about the problems with the "Getting to Zero" campaign or mindset. In one of this blog's very first posts, Mike wrote about how the false premise of Zero leads to a culture of blame. Dan has written about how APIC's "I Believe in Zero CLABSIs" campaign shows that it's "unwilling or unable to speak honestly about HAIs" and that "they will eventually lose credibility with their members who fight daily to prevent them."  There are other examples of post-factual truthiness in HAI prevention, including the claim that the only way to prevent MRSA is through a nasal PCR swab.

In closing, it's a sad day when an idea dating back to Aristotle has officially died.  At least those of us working in HAI prevention can take comfort in the idea that we've done our part through paving the way to a post-Factual "Getting to Zero" world.

Addendum: Rex Huppke, the author of the Tribune obit, speaks about how and why he wrote "one of the best op-ed pieces ever."

the American Journalism Review's excellent take on the obit, can be found here.

1 comment:

  1. While I don't think the "Getting Zero" goal should be discredited I cannot support a culture of blaming one another. We need to work together to make "getting zero" a reality, not back stab each other by placing fault.