Maryland hospital suffers bacteria scare

Maryland hospital suffers bacteria scare

Prince George’s Hospital in Maryland is in a world of hurt at the moment. According to the Associated Press, officials have found yet another incident of a “potentially deadly bacterium” in the hospital.

This is not the first time in the span of a few weeks the hospital has been shut down for a similar reason. One announcement of this kind is all sorts of bad news. Fear of rampant and malevolent bacteria is at an all time high in modern America. Seems like some sort of warning is being heard by someone just about once a month.

But to have two such warnings sent out in less than a month doesn’t double the fear, it exponentially increases it. And it gets worse.
The bacteria in question – Pseudomonas – was found in at least one patient care area near the neonatal intensive care unit. Desperately sick babies and a deadly bacteria. Real life terror on a scale that would make any horror movie audience cringe.

But that’s not all…

The bacteria was found the first time on August 9, hiding in water pipes after two newborns were found dead. While no link has been formally connected between the two, an infectious disease expert is said to be investigating whether or not the deaths are linked to the Pseudomonas. As a precautionary measure, hospital staff transferred many newborns out of the NICU.

Looking at this strictly from a public relations scenario, things could not be too terribly worse for the hospital. They have the following “power” words connected in the same paragraph, whether in newsprint, online or coming out of the mouth of a news readers: “baby.” “death,” bacteria,”, “neonatal ICU,” and “moved.”

Can you see how, when those words are connected in a report, the actual facts of the case – including the lack of a distinct link and the ongoing investigation – won’t really matter much to people consuming this story? They will, essentially, assume the worst and “remember” that “worst” version any time they think about or talk about this story.

While the hospital may not want to talk about this story at all, they need to get their PR team on top of it sooner rather than later. People need a better narrative, or they will substitute their own horror story.

Ronn Torossian

Ronn Torossian is the founder and CEO of 5WPR and one of the most well-respected Public Relations professionals in the United States. Ronn is the author of "For Immediate Release: Shape Minds, Build Brands, and Deliver Results with Game-Changing Public Relations."

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