I was thumbing through Anne Frye's "Holistic Midwifery Volume I, Care During Pregnancy" when I came across a fantastic passage. Frye deftly illustrates the interesting attitudes we have regarding safety and birth in this country. There seems to be a belief in our culture that if we work harder and add a bit more technology, we can eliminate infant mortality. She offers an analogy, what if physicians decided to eliminate all death from choking? Anne writes (page 533):
Suppose physicians everywhere suddenly decided to focus on eliminating choking deaths resulting from the ingestion of food. The medical focus would become :avoid death by choking. To that end, public areas would be set up so that people could be observed by health professionals while dining. Standards of "normal" eating would be established; perhaps times of the day, blood sugar levels, and chewing patterns would all be calculated in relation to the number of people who choked. Some, who had choked before or who were especially at risk (the very young or very old) would be hospitalized during meals to be more carefully monitored. Foods would undoubtedly be mashed or pureed. Eventually, no doubt, doctors would advocate nutritive I.V.s as a solution for the high risk and those who didn't want to risk eating the more careless way. Of course, to completely eliminate this choking problem, everyone could receive nutritive I.V.s. A lot of time, money and effort would be spent developing various nutritive I.V. fluids to meet everyone's needs. People would discover where they stood as far as risk was concerned and those who ate at home unobserved would be seen as reckless and irresponsible.
Out of curiosity, I looked up the top accidental causes of death in the US according to the National Safety Council (http://agsafety.tamu.edu/ACCIDENTAL%20DEATHS%20IN%20THE%20UNITED%20STATES.pdf). Choking is actually number six on the list. Of far greater concern are deaths by motor vehicle accidents and falls. Perhaps physicians could set up programs to monitor walkers?