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GRE Argument Essay: The Following Appeared In A Memo From The Director Of A Large Group Of Hospitals. - With A Free Essay Review

Prompt: 'The following appeared in a memo from the director of a large group of hospitals. "In a controlled laboratory study of liquid hand soaps, a concentrated solution of extra strength UltraClean hand soap produced a 40 percent greater reduction in harmful bacteria than did the liquid hand soaps currently used in our hospitals. During our recent test of regular-strength UltraClean with doctors, nurses, and visitors at our hospital in Worktown, the hospital reported significantly fewer cases of patient infection (a 20 percent reduction) than did any of the other hospitals in our group. Therefore, to prevent serious patient infections, we should supply UltraClean at all hand-washing stations, including those used by visitors, throughout our hospital system." Write a response in which you examine the stated and/or unstated assumptions of the argument. Be sure to explain how the argument depends on these assumptions and what the implications are for the argument if the assumptions prove unwarranted.'

First of all, the author claims that supplying UltraClean at all hand-washing stations throughout hosptial system can prevent serious patient infections, since the concentrated solution of Ultraclean produced a 40 percent greater reduction in the bacteria population than did the liquid hand soaps. Thus, the author necessarily assumes the performance of reduction in the bacteria population is the most important consideration when choosing soaps, in other words, the greater reduction of bacteria, the better the soap. However, it is possible that the concentration of the new soap is well above the threshold of approved suitable concentration; thus, although it can significantly reduce the bacteria population, it may be too aggressive for peopleís skin and such high concentration may not be applicable for clinical use or the new soap is much more expensive. If the authorís assumption is unwarranted, even if the new concentrated soap shows greater reduction in the bacteria population, as long as it shows that the concentration is too high for normal skin and may have other side-effects or it is too expensive to apply, the new soap would not be the best choice, and that would weaken the authorís claim.

Moreover, the author implies a link between using the new soap and the declining in reported patient infection cases. This implied link only makes sense based on the assumption that the significant reduction of reported patient infection cases is solely due to using new concentrated soaps. If the assumption is unwarranted, and it is possible that the reduction of reported patient infection cases is due to the reduction in the number of patients during that period, or the hospital improved its cleaning efficiency, thus, such correlation is coincidental or it has nothing to do with using the new soap, then, these alternative possibilities could weaken the authorís argument.

In addition, the author also mentions that the new soap can prevent serious infections. Thus, the author necessarily assumes that the majority of serious patient infections is caused by bacteria on hands or through physical contacts. If the authorís assumption is unwarranted, and it is shown that the most infections are due to patients inappropriately treated injured area, or the cleanness of the overall environment, which through bacteria on hands or physical contracts, then, even if granted that the new soap is more effective, it would not contribute to reducing serious infections, and the authorís suggestion is weakened.

To sum up, in order to evaluated, we need to ensure the following assumptions: the new soap is suitable for the skin, the decline of reported infection cases is due to using new soaps, and the majorty of serious infections are via bacteria on hands or physical contacts.


Essay Review

The director doesn't claim that the soap is the best choice taking all things into consideration; the argument is simply that UltraClean should be used in order to prevent serious patient infections. Your first argument, in raising the questions of the soaps effect on the skin and its cost, is therefore largely irrelevant. What you need to analyse are the assumptions behind the claim that the particular soap being recommended will prevent serious patient infections and will do so better than other soaps, including the one currently being used, and will do so if it is adopted "at all hand-washing stations."

Your additional arguments, then, are more to the point. The argument about the director's assumption about the cause of "serious infections," however, is reasonable insofar as it distinguishes between "infections" (which is what the "recent test" at Worktown measured) and "serious infections," which is what the director hopes to prevent. Your penultimate paragraph could do a better job of making that distinction explicit, which would help to clarify the way in which the argument depends on the assumption you identify. Note how dependence is emphasized in the following example: "Since the recent test only measured reported 'infections', without specifying whether they were 'serious', the argument that the soap will prevent 'serious infections' assumes that the reported reduction includes a reduction in serious infections, and therefore assumes that serious infections can be caused by bacteria (on hands) targeted by the soap."

Best, EJ.

P.S. Regarding your comment: Conclusions that merely repeat claims already made add nothing of significant value and therefore can probably be ignored if you are out of time. A conclusion that mentions briefly what you would have gone on to argue if you had time might be beneficial.

Best, EJ.
Submitted by: uofr6460


Dear EJ: If I don't have enough time, can I omit the last paragraph? Is it important at all?
July,02 2012

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