Chemical reactions: a chemistry based topic perhaps seen more in your everyday life than you could even imagine.These Chemical reactions are defined by Farrington in, Chain Reaction Chemistry as, “a reaction in which many molecules undergo chemical reaction after one molecule becomes activated. In ordinary chemical reactions, every molecule that reacts must first become activated by collision with other rapidly moving molecules” (p. 1, 2014). To translate this it basically means that when two chemicals or substances interact with one another the molecules within these substances can react to form different compounds and, in the hair washing example, react to form a cleaning agent. Everything you do from shampooing your hair, sanitizing your hands, or even brushing your teeth, there is a chemical reaction taking place.
However, chemical reactions aren’t always helpful. In the medical field the malpractice of medicine can correlate hand and hand with poorly conducted chemical reactions. Every year it is estimated that over 98,000 people die from malpractice in hospitals. This is the third leading cause of death in the United States, making it a higher probability that you will die from malpractice when looking for help than from Alzheimer’s disease. Now this doesn’t mean all 98,000 deaths derive from poor chemical reactions within your body but a large percentage of the deaths do. With all the growing medical technology it is shocking to believe that these mistakes can still occur. Chemical reactions are something we as people deal with on a day to day basis without recognizing it.
My purpose is to explain, bring awareness, and connect your everyday life to chemical reactions and the malpractice of these chemical reactions within hospitals across the country. To bring attention about this topic to the world we’ll need to fully explore the world of medicine, dig into medical stories, and relay the information to you, the audience, and to people all around the world to hopefully find a solution for all the bumps and hiccups that we still face everyday in the medical field. People die everyday from this malpractice, but what makes it so hard, what about chemical reactions do we not understand yet?
Hygiene and Chemical Reactions:
Chemical reactions, especially within the medical field, but also in our everyday lives is one reason we are able to live as long as we do this day in age. Hygiene is one of the most helpful aspects that contributes to the life span we have. To think back hundreds of years, before toothpaste, soap, or even baths, hygiene wasn’t something people took into consideration. But, since then, we have become more intelligent and realized that in order to live a healthy and long life we must take care of our bodies inside and out. For instance toothpaste helps prevent tooth decay. Tooth decay happens most frequently when sugar (C12H22O11) is added to the problem. Within moments after eating anything with sugar the sticky glycoproteins, which is a combination of carbohydrate and protein molecules, adhere to the teeth and form what we call plaque. Toothpaste is basically a gel or paste used to maintain and clean the plaque buildup around your teeth and keep healthy gums. This toothpaste acts as a base bond which neutralize the acid’s that form in your mouth. This is an example of a chemical reaction gone great and is what keeps our teeth looking white and new. The actual chemical reaction in which this occurs can be simplified as; “…the sodium fluoride in toothpaste reacts with the enamel on your teeth while being used. A double displacement reaction occurs between the sodium fluoride and the hydroxyapatite crystals in your enamel. When this occurs, the fluoride produces a constituent called fluorapatite in the enamel, which helps to protect the enamel from decay and the amount mineral loss.” (Yuekui, 2014).
Malpractice and Chemical Reactions:
Now, not all chemical reactions are as useful as toothpaste. So let’s turn our attention over to medical malpractice. When we think of hospitals we associate it with the place we go to get healthy. No one that works in a hospital goes into work and thinks, I want to endanger someone’s life today, however mistakes happen and people slip up. For instance a story shared on, Medical Malpractice.com, goes into abysmal detail of a failed chemical reaction with a patient that stayed at Penrose Hospital in Colorado. The patient checked in complaining of chest pains and shortness of breathe. After being administered to a room, later that night the pain increased and the nurse in charge decided to give the patient a Nitroglycerin tablet to ease the pain without consulting a physician or doctor. The Nitroglycerin tablet, which is a nitrate, are used to relax heart arteries, making it easier for blood to flow through the veins and narrow places. Failing to look at the patient’s medical chart to realize the patient was already taking blood thinners the patient’s heart stopped and he immediately went into cardiac arrest. After not being able to save the patient this is a prime example of malpractice in the medical field. The chemical reaction between the blood thinners the patient was already on and the nitroglycerin administered by the nurse reacted to burst blood vessels and didn’t allow for the blood to coagulate or clot as it normally would to prevent bursting vessels and arteries. The molecular compound for a Nitroglycerin tablets is C3H5(NO3)3. Being given the chemical information the nurse should have been aware of the side effects and since the patient was already having chest pain the chemical reaction of a Nitroglycerin tablet should’ve been assessed. These are just some example of how chemical reactions are shown in our everyday lives, especially in the medical malpractice area.
Reactions in the Brain:
These amazing reactions can also connect to us in our academics. This can connect more than just metaphors of the two as well. For instance when we show emotion there are chemical reactions within your body that allow you to feel these emotions. Chemical reactions are found more so in our everyday lives, from pesticides to washing our hands, than in the academic context. However a good example of how chemical reactions occur in our academic lives is a lot like how our emotions are affected by the chemical reactions. When we get excited endorphins are released to make us “feel” as if we are happy. This is true for learning as well. When we learn something new the chemical dopamine is released. This can be defined as the, for lack of better explanation, “save button” in our brain. When we sit and listen we retain only ten percent of what we are actually listening too. This is in part why teachers ask you to write down what they are saying so you can actually remember what they’re teaching. However, since we only can retain ten percent of what we listen to wouldn’t it be nice if we could retain more and enjoy learning? When dopamine is released we retain the information better, therefore this chemical reaction also allows us to stay focused and make connections with previous experiences or knowledge. When we learn something new and our brain automatically makes a connection we retain the information better due to the fact that the chemical reaction within our brain releases the dopamine only when we are centered in on something. So by making the connection we can open new portals to retain the information. More connections means it is easier to remember and less dopamine is originally needed to actually retain the information in the first place. This is also true for when we learn something exciting. “Dopamine and endorphins are the quartet responsible for our happiness. Many events can trigger these neurotransmitters, but rather than being in the passenger seat, there are ways we can intentionally cause them to flow” (Nguyen, 2014). Therefore if we are learning something when we are excited about we are more likely to retain the information and make better connections. Since this chemical reaction helps to retain information easier teachers often times try to make their assignments exciting, even if they aren’t fully aware of the chemistry behind it, so that the information sticks around. When the two are combined it not only makes it easier to remember but the endorphins also allow your brain to make these positive correlations with learning so it isn’t as much of a drag to sit and listen. This can help students to be less stressed out when it comes to school and empower them so that they strive to become more intelligent.
Farrington, D. (2014). Chain Reaction Chemistry. Retrieved November 22, 2016, from http://accessscience.com/content/123600
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Nguyen, T. (n.d.). Hacking Into Your Happy Chemicals: Dopamine, Serotonin, Endorphins and Oxytocin. Retrieved December 09, 2016, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/thai-nguyen/hacking-into-your-happy-c_b_6007660.html