Spider bite identification

The Snark

Dumpster Fire of the Gods
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Beating a dead horse here. Dead? This one is somewhere between mummy and fossilized.

You go into the ER with what looks like a bite.
Let's take a stroll through the ER. There is NOBODY, NONE, NADA, NOT, in the ER that may publicly discuss ANYTHING with the public, except the Physicians.

->Nurse says to family member of possible bite patient, 'It looks like a spider bite' and gets overheard by a supervisor or doctor, it's a trip to the Director Of Nursing for an arse chewing that will probably be remembered 12 years after death. "SINCE WHEN ARE YOU AN AUTHORIZED AUTHORITY OF.....?"

That leaves the doctor. Now let's be frank. In and around a hospital, doctors are gods. They answer only to other doctors in peer reviews which are rare. A doctor can say anything s/he wants to. Anything. Guy goes into an ER in Greenland with an open suppurating sore and the doc announces, "That's an Atrax spider bite without doubt." Nobody is going to argue or disagree with him. There IS NOBODY who can disagree with him except another doctor and in my 30 or so years bumbling around docs and hospitals on and off I have heard a doc bad mouth another doc publicly about zero times. Around the chances of cactus collecting on the Ross Ice Shelf.

As far as IDing spiders, and positively IDing a spider bite, I can name a good dozen people here on AB who are far far better at it. Doctors study human physiology. In the 7 to 9 years to become a doc their training in entomology is zip. Zip zip. For that matter, the average EMT I piloting an ambulance has about 20 more hours of training in mechanisms of injury (like the bites of spider) than a doctor has.

Next in the little hoedown is the phrase 'The headwaters of poop creek are a cruel and treacherous expanse.'
There is one sure fire way for the gods of hospitals to get into deep deep deep doo doo. Violation of doctor-patient confidence. That way doth loss of license to practice lie.
The scenario runs like this. Doc attends to a patient then dictates a report. This report goes to the transcriptionists working medical records. They type it up then file it in the special filing cabinets in an isolated area that is always under lock and key and a supervisor is present 24/7.
The doc then goes about his business and if you want to continue working at that place, it's a done deal. Not open for discussion and getting a look at those reports requires the physicians signature. For a patient to see his/her own medical report it often requires a court order as the physician is under no obligation to reveal his findings to ANYONE.

Now, if a doc wants to tell a patient's family it was a bite from a latrodectus, that is between them. He could also say it was from a Bengal tiger which he would be about equally up to speed in.

Then, if a doctor felt like it, absolutely no obligation, he could go out of his way and notify Poison Control and the health department that he has positively identified a spider bite and the spider. The doc can submit the spider to the appropriate expert for identification, he could submit it to the housekeeping supervisor, or even some random person wandering down the hall. His choice and nobody can dispute it.

The point is, unless the patient is taken to a hospital where a prepared and trained team of physicians, toxicologists and entomologists are available, a positive bite and spider ID are slightly rarer than hens teeth. For a good example, read up on Phoneutria and the extensive exhaustive studies done on bite victims in S. A. or similar done by teams of experts in the Sydney area on Atrax. It sure as heck wasn't the average Physician on duty in the average ER who is much more interested in milking out his $300 - $500 an hour than going to all the proper IDing rigamarole gratis.

To sum up, at a very rough guess, the vast majority of IDed positive spider bites are a nice assortment of bull feathers. For proof, just web surf spider bites. For every reputable report with references including experts names and their institutions I'll bet you get 100,000 fantasy stories.
 
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pannaking22

Arachnoemperor
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Nov 25, 2011
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THANK YOU. I just gave a talk on spiders last night to a local naturalists group and I tried to stress that doctors know absolutely nothing when it comes to spider bites. It's a convenient subject to be blamed when the doc doesn't actually know what caused it. It's insane how much it happens here in the US. Even worse since I'm right on the edge of the recluse map, so plenty of people make the claim that their mother's best friend's sister's ex husband's 4th cousin got bitten and had a softball sized necrotic sore. Anymore if I get those emails (I'm not a doctor! Though I'm an entomologist so I guess I'm significantly more qualified) I just respond with Rick Vetter's UC Riverside site.
 

The Snark

Dumpster Fire of the Gods
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Fondly recalling Vetter when he posted his long winded diatribe about Recluse bites. http://spiders.ucr.edu/myth.html
Probably in his 5th cup of coffee after opening the 75,511th letter that started with 'i jus got bits by a flying toilet spoder...'
What amazes me is you have a top flight expert like him, citing references and research up the yahoody, publishing ultra detailed in depth analysis like that and the sheep factory still prefering to believe the rumor started by a cousins friend after running afoul of a hornets nest.
 
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