Article Analysis



Article Analysis

Medical problem hit United States during the early 1990s. The country’s medical department was experiencing a bloodstream infection problem in most of the hospital. The problem was majorly spread by the use of needle syringe in administering drugs into the IV systems of the patients. The problem was not only affecting the patients but also other Hospital employees like doctors and Nurses. The problem was based on the contact of an infected person’s blood contents with the inner tissues of an infected person. Nurses were the most threatened by this problem because they were the ones who were injecting the patients. They could therefore easily get scratched by the used syringe needles hence get infected.

Mariah Blake used this case to write the article Dirty Medicine which was published on the July/August Washington Monthly of 2010(Washington Monthly, 2010). Mariah Blake used this article to make clear the following themes. First the article shades light on how Thomas Shaw, a structural engineer and also a medical researcher was dedicated to make changes to the medical department of the country. The article also shows the laxity the government had on rectifying the problem in the medical department. The article also shows the unhealthy competition the few major vendor companies, to the medical department, were putting up to the minor suppliers. The article exposes the poor methods of purchasing medical equipment by the various medical institution authorities. The article illustrate how the government tried to make changes to the medical department, especially in the medical equipment’s distribution sector, in the mid-1990s. The article also shows the characters who joined Thomas Shaw in forcing positive changes to the medical department of the country. In general Mariah Blake used the article to show how it was hard to make positive changes in the department which was experiencing the major problem and the worth of the change.

The author starts by describing the seriousness of the problem in the introduction. She uses direct quotations from Thomas Shaw. Thomas Shaw uses strong words to indicate express his stand on the issue. Thomas Shaw said that the problem was a scam which was meant to destroy them. This indicated that the problem was very serious and needed an immediate attention. The author used some statistics to show the seriousness of the problem. She says that the problem was the cause of death for one out of ten people who were dying in the country by then. She further indicates the problem was ranked among the fifth leading cause of death. The ministry for health funded Thomas Shaw with $600,000 grand to finalize with his invention of retractable syringe which was meant to minimize to minimize the spread of the infection.

Thomas Shaw was able to raise $42 million for his project(Washington Monthly, 2010). Most of the money came from the doctors at Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. Lawrence Mills one of the doctor also said that everyone was eager to invest in Thomas Shaw’s company. He invested $95,000 in the Company. The nurses also conquered with the Shaw’s project with the hope of finding a solution to the problem which endangered their lives. Shaw persisted with his project even after his first attempt was blocked with poor system which was used to determine the company to buy medical equipment from, he did not stop at that point and kept on looking for solutions. Later in the article the author indicates that it was not only Shaw who was moved to take action in an attempt to find the solution to the problem. She introduces Garrett Bolks. Bolks was up to helping show force his positive effects to the medical system of the country. All this illustrations were used by the author to indicate how serious the problem was.

Apart from illustrating the seriousness of the problem, the author also used some illustrations to indicate the government reactions in an attempt to solve these national issue. Initially, government shown no attempt of trying to find the solution. According to the author’s organization of the article, it clearly indicates that the problem was a lethal national concern. The government was therefore expected to take an action immediately to minimize the effect of the problem. The author indicates that the problem was ranked among the fifth leading cause of the death in the country. These clearly indicates that the Government was too reluctant in dealing with the problem.

The government also did not try to solve the problem of the method with which the hospitals were using in purchasing the medical equipment. The method supported purchasing cheaper products rather than quality and more appropriate equipment. The method became a barrier to Thomas Shaw attempt to get into the medical system of the country to make positive changes. It discouraged the purchasing of Shaw’s invented syringe because it was a little bit more expensive due to the higher cost of producing them.

The government did not support Shaw’s project financially apart from the $600,000 he received from the National Institute of Health for adjusting the syringe to a smaller size. Thomas Shaw was left searching for finance on his own to see his project a becoming a success. He managed to raise $42 million with assist coming mainly from Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. All these illustrations clearly indicates that the government was reluctant to in curbing this national concern.

The author also used the article to illustrate the unhealthy competition which characterized the market. The market was characterized by some few suppliers who were using unhealthy competition techniques to knock off or disadvantage the smaller suppliers. An example of such companies was the Becton Dickson which controlled 70% of the syringe market. The Ben Dickson’s unhealthy techniques included price fixing, carrying out acquisition activities with smaller companies, buying the small companies innovative ideas to kill their innovation. The company also blackmailing hospitals to buy their syringes otherwise they fail to be supplied with other products provided by the company.These bigger companies also used their powers to increase the price of the items for the medical facilities. As a result the many smaller medical organizations came together in to form group purchasing organization. This was a measure aimed at keeping the price on check. They would therefore order goods in bulk from these companies hence increasing their bargaining power. The author used this as an illustration to show that these companies had the power to dictate the price of medical facilities.

The author however gives illustration ls later in the article that reveals that the government started supporting the projects which were aimed at eradicating the medical problem. The government began the support in mid 1980s(Washington Monthly, 2010). Congress passed a bill that enables the GPOs to collect fees from other companies instead of the membership dues. These was meant to protect the smaller companies against the exploitation. This therefore opened the market entry for Thomas show. The entry was restricted initially by the ill policies of these mega companies.

The author used illustrations in the article to highlight the life of Thomas Shaw and his attitude and character(Washington Monthly, 2010). Shaw described his childhood home as a kind of frenetic laboratory where science and Math problems were worked out on a chalk board that hung over the dinner table. This clearly depicts the kind of environment Shaw grew up at. An area where schoolwork could be done any time indicates that the surrounding people where hardworking. The blackboard hanging on a dinner table explains that the people who were living with Shaw embraced schoolwork and would remind their child about schoolwork every time they were taking any meal. John mentioning Math and Science problems also shows that these were his area of interest. His father was also a chemist who invented the first Nitrogen test for plants. These shows that the love for science was adopted by Shaw from his father. Shaw also doubled his business at Arizona with operating medical devices.

The love for science made Shaw to develop an interest in human medical sector. This was illustrated in the article by several attempts he made to make positive changes in the medical sector of the country. Shaw’s direct quotation written by the author at the introduction part of the article clearly show that Shaw was well informed in medical sector. It also affirmed the Shaw had great passion in medical sector. He clearly takes a stand and goes father to support his stand by the claim that the whole problem was a setup to kill them.

The Author observes Shaw as twisting his chair and kneads his hand. This show that Shaw was troubled in mind. It indicates that Shaw loved to maul over issues to find solution. The author also described Shaw as having characters of a mad scientist air(Washington Monthly, 2010). This explains that Shaw was a scholar who loved to think.This is a character which Shaw developed from reading a lot of books. Shaw grew up a problem solver, something he developed due to his exposure to academic work right from his childhood. Whenever he sees a problem he complain and quickly sets his mind on finding the solution. Shaw got the story of his friend’s grandmother undergoing a gallbladder surgery and then came out of the theater addled and confused, he blamed the medical officers who operated on the grandmother for incorrectly mixing the chemicals. After complaining, Shaw did not stop at that point but went ahead to find solution.With his innovative ability Shaw was able to invent an automated pill dispenser. When the problem of bloodstream infection arose, Shaw first complained to the authority and then embarked on finding the solution.

The illustrations in the article also reveals that Shaw is ambitious. When he was still young he use to do math and science at will. This clearly indicates that Shaw had ambition which kept him to work harder. In high school level John passed his exams and the proceeded to University. This indicates that Shaw had an ambition of proceeding with his education and that is what made him work hard in school to pass his exams(Washington Monthly, 2010). Shaw watched a case of a doctor in California who was infected with HIV after accidentally getting stuck by infected needle he was using. This incident reminded John about the case of his friend who was diagnosed with AIDS. Due to being close to his friend he therefore knew the adverse effect of AIDS. He felt pained in heart and promised to find the solution. The author uses direct quotation to express Shaw’s vow to help solve the issue. The author did that to stress the message and also the ambitious nature Thomas Shaw. The direct quotation was also meant to make the reader trust the message in the quote since they indicate the original words of Shaw.

The author uses this article to illustrate that Shaw was an opportunist and exploring man. When Shaw joined University of Arizona, he launched his own engineering firm in a former bicycle repair shop. He even incorporated sells of medical equipment in the same firm. When Shaw had about the problem of bloodstream infection, he started exploring equipment which could prove a solution to the problem. He came up with a needless catheter which he modified through research until it was almost approved one-hundred percent effective by doctors. Shaw also used to explore math and science problem while he was still young and what he described at a board in the dining room for solving math and science problems. Shaw in general had a tendency of exploring the causes and possible solutions.

The author’s illustration on Shaw’s activities and behaviors also indicates that Shaw was caring and loving. Shaw proved this character when he commuted himself to find the solution to the bloodstream infection problem(Washington Monthly, 2010). Shaw shown care about the people of the country by tirelessly researching for the solution to the deadly health concern.Shaw felt for the grandmother of his friend and also the doctor who was infected with AIDS. The tone of his quoted statement about the issues indicated the feeling of care he had on these two people.

The character that these article majorly depict of Shaw is hard work and persistence. Shaw grew up in an environment where people were hard working. Shaw’s father being a chemist indicates that the father was hardworking in school. Shaw also saw math and science problems as things he could solve in the board in which was in their dining room. This indicates an environment where people are focused to achieve their goals. Shaw went ahead to prove his hardworking nature in high school. He passed his examinationand joined Amazonia University.

Shaw was an engineer by profession. However his willingness to make impact to the medical department of the country made him a professional in two major areas. Through his hard work, Shaw managed to research on various issues in the medical line(Washington Monthly, 2010). This made him come up with many inventions involving this line of profession. The author wrote in the article that the syringe case was not the first time Shaw’s path to the market was blocked. She wrote that over the previous fifteen years Shaw had been trying to enter the market through his innovations like small medical supply. Unfortunately his effort has been proving futile due to the plight his innovations faced in the market.

Shaw made his mind to find the solution to the problem of bloodstream infection. He carried out intense research until he came up with the idea of needless-catheter IV. The idea though did away with the needle, which was seen as the basis of the problem, still experienced cases of infection this was because the tip was open and bacteria could enter the body through the tip(Washington Monthly, 2010). Shaw however did not take that as the end of the road. Due to his persistent and determination, he started another research to solve the problem which accompanied his invention. Shaw through his hard work and being idealistic came up with the idea of using six-metal like flanges to cover the tip of the syringe. The author used the illustration to Shows that the determination could not be stopped even with the mistake he made

Shaw came close to achieving the goal which included producing these syringes and distributing them to as many hospitals as possible so that he could save the endangered lives of patients and nurses he cared about. After producing these syringes, another challenge arose(Washington Monthly, 2010). The syringes were not bought the way he was expecting. A very few needles were bought by some few hospitals. Shaw even upgraded the needles by reducing their sizes so that they can become more appropriate. The needles were approved by even the government doctors. The sales did not show any improvement in the market. The author used all these details to show how quitting the mission would have been easy by any other person who lacked the dedication of Shaw. Shaw, however, with his persistence did not give up but started looking for a way in which he could distribute his syringes to help save the lives of the threatened people. Shaw kept on fighting until mid-1980s when the government started passing some rules which were promoting the use of Shaw’s syringes.

The article introducers other characters who started supporting Shaw with his products. They worked hand in hand with Shaw until positive changes were evident in the system. The author uses this illustration to explain how people were not ready to take action until someone with courage and determination initiates the action(Wang et el. 2006). The article in general illustrates how initiating a change can be demanding.

The author of the article appropriately used great literary techniques to ensure she passed the intended message to the reader(Wang et el. 2006). The techniques helped in passing the message in an interesting and easily understandable manner. Some of these techniques included correct punctuation and correct use of imagery( Applegate. 1996). She also used varying sentence length to create emphasis.



Applegate, E. (1996). Literary journalism: A biographical dictionary of writers and editors. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press.

Wang, D., & Bakhai, A. (2006). Clinical trials: A practical guide to design, analysis, and reporting. London: Remedica.

Woods, G. (2008). AP English literature & composition for dummies. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Pub

Washington Monthly (July/August 2010): Dirty Medicine available at



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