“The Impact of Geographical Water Shutoffs on the Diagnosis of Potentially Water-associated Illness, with the Role of Social Vulnerability Examined”
Alexander Plum, MPH, CHES, Kyle Moxley, ABD, Marcus Zervos, MD 4/8/2017
The Henry Ford Global Health Initiative undertook research with community partners to understand the relationship between city-imposed water shutoffs and health outcomes among patients at its hospital in Detroit. Block-level addresses in the city where water shutoffs occurred between January 2015 and February 2016 were compared with Henry Ford Hospital patient admissions and diagnoses of certain gastrointestinal [GI] and skin and soft tissue infections [SSTI]). Both sets of data were then controlled for potential socioeconomic status confounding using metrics from the CDC. Those who were diagnosed with a water-associated illness were 1.42 times more likely to have lived on a block that had experienced a water shutoff. Those patients who came from blocks that experienced a shut off were 1.55 times more likely to have been diagnosed with a water-associated illness. It should be noted that the data was analyzed at the block level, that patients were not contacted about experiencing shutoffs, and that confirmatory lab testing of infections or point-source contaminants was not conducted. This study demonstrates an association, not a causal link.
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