Stapilus: We don’t have the right to endanger others | Regional news
For many years, American aircraft pilots, large and small, have regularly performed a pre-take-off protocol, often written, often spoken aloud: “Landing gear position lights – checked, altimeter – set, directional gyro – set, fuel gauges – checked… ”This slows things down for a minute or two, and probably makes some experienced pilots a little worse. But partly because of this, the US aviation has for decades had a remarkably excellent record for preventing accidents.
In 2001, a parallel thought struck a doctor at Johns Hopkins who was examining the large number of patients who have died or nearly died from infections. He proposed a checklist protocol – a series of mostly simple things that medical staff could do to prevent infection – things usually done but sometimes missed; the approach required a specific check to see that all of these things had been done. The end result was a dramatic improvement, a lot less infections, a lot better health.
Each of these things – properly cleaning the patient, placing sterile blankets in the right place, etc. – meant that medical personnel were circumscribed in various ways. But these little requirements have proven to be very useful.
No government agency required this. It was not necessary: once better procedures were found, not only in this case but in many others, medical providers tended to adopt them as standard practice.
Consider: If we had known that several thousand lives could be saved by a simple checklist procedure and medical providers were not using it, then could we demand it, even by the government? Probably, if the trade-off is thousands of lives for minor inconvenience… but again, we didn’t have to go.
It ties into the biggest political dust in Idaho today.
One of the largely unrecognized aspects of the Covid-19 pandemic is the extent to which private companies and in particular medical providers are committed to taking measures, understood and accepted through long medical experience, to avoid contributing to the problem: masking in stores, social distancing in public spaces, etc. Much of it has never been officially mandated by a government; often these private organizations simply did what they needed to keep their customers, employees and others safe. (Many deserve a lot more credit for this than they tend to get.)
And while this is a short term annoyance for all of us, I’m going to count myself among those who appreciate it and be careful of who has my safety in mind and who doesn’t. I would not go to a doctor’s office or medical center, for example, that did not take reasonable steps to keep people – staff, patients, visitors, others – safe.
In Idaho, as in most parts of the country, medical professionals largely do just that. The headlines appeared when a few of them (I imagine there are a lot more), including St., Luke’s, and St. Alphonsus Medical Centers, said they would demand that the staff are vaccinated against Covid-19.
And why not? They do not allow (I presume) to work staff members who are sick with something contagious, or disgusting, under the influence, or otherwise presenting themselves as a danger to the people around them. Protection against Covid-19 is really little different, and the inoculation requirement should probably be a standard in many types of organizations where many staff, customers and others interact on a regular basis. As an employer or employee, I wouldn’t think twice. It makes sense. People have the right to decide what to put in their body, but they don’t have the right to endanger others.
This is as background for the current proposal by Lieutenant Governor of Idaho Janice McGeachin to call the Idaho legislature (which the state has already seen too much of this year) into a special session in largely to prohibit hospitals from taking measures to prevent people from getting sick. And there were public protests in support of this: a sign said “Compulsory vaccination is a violation of human rights”.
If so, then the same goes for any kind of requirement – from sterile procedures to driving on the right side of the road – that inhibits our actions in the interest of our safety. Any of them could be on the Legislature’s hit list (but only if they join the endless rotisserie of Culture War Day outrage).
Whether the health and safety of Idaho residents is of interest to most Idaho lawmakers is an unresolved question. In the days to come, lawmakers will decide (they haven’t yet as it was written) whether to resume the session to ban hospitals from setting up rescue procedures.
Just don’t tell them about aviation checklists, or Idaho could start seeing planes falling from the sky every day.
Randy Stapilus is a former Idaho reporter and editor and blogger at www.ridenbaugh.com. He can be contacted at [email protected] his new book, “What do you mean by that?” just released and can be found on its website.