WhiteCoat

Liam Donaldson a Trial Lawyer Shill?

I wrote about this topic in February. In fact, Overlawyered.com just linked to the story today.

The American Association for Justice really cares about “justice” and not about money …
The United States is debt free …
Vice President Biden was a second runner up in the Miss World pageant …
The World Health Organization is responsible for creating drug resistant bacteria and ebola virus in order to effectuate population control …

Let’s think … what other cockamamie stories can we come up with?

Just ask Liam Donaldson, the World Health Organization’s newly appointed “Envoy for Patient Safety.”

According to Donaldson, “If you were admitted to hospital tomorrow in any  country… your chances of being subjected to an error in your care would be something like 1 in 10. Your chances of dying due to an error in health care would be 1 in 300.”

WHAAATTT?!?!?!

This guy was formerly England’s Chief Medical Officer for twelve years. England’s own parliament put out a report of England’s Health Committee in 2009 – while Donaldson was the CMO - showing that “around 3,500″ medical errors in the NHS each year involve the death of the patient.

Between 2009 and 2010, there were 14.5 million hospital admissions in England (.pdf file) – at least according to the NHS’s “Hospital Episode Statistics” online. With one in 300 dying from an “error in health care” (according to Dr. Donaldson), then a total of roughly 48,300 patients in England would have died at the hands of us careless, lackadaisical, downright dangerous medical providers.

Same calendar year, but there is a big discrepancy between 3,500 patient deaths cited in the House of Commons report and 48,300 deaths cited by Professor Sir Liam Donaldson.

That discrepancy leaves me with three possible explanations.

First possibility: Those who created the statistics used in the Sixth Report of the Health Committee for the House of Commons were a bunch of incompetents and should all be beheaded. Remember, the report was created during Sir Liam Donaldson’s tenure as England’s Chief Medical Officer, so he is not without blame if this scenario holds true.
Second possibility: There was a MI5 cover up of nearly 45,000 deaths due to medical errors in England in 2009. Someone call Scotland Yard … and Geraldo Rivera.
Third possibility: Sir Liam Donaldson is blowing bubbles out his bum when citing statistics on behalf of the World Health Organization.

I keep wondering whether or not the WHO will pull a John Kyl and come out with a press release stating that “this was not intended to be a factual statement.”

How about it, Dr. Donaldson? Care to cite the source for your statistics? Care to explain why your statistics are so different from those cited by your own country when you were the Chief Medical Officer?

Spreading misinformation about medical errors does no one any good – except those who would profit from alleged unsafe environments, such as trial lawyers who make money based on a jury’s impression of careless medical care and government agencies who are able to deny payments to or impose fines on healthcare providers due to an alleged lack of safety.

Where is an “Envoy for Fact Checking” when you need one?

4 Responses to “Liam Donaldson a Trial Lawyer Shill?”

  1. Hueydoc says:

    To this day, I have never actually seen this study, or ANY study, showing hard numbers and the data used to support this claim. Where is it ? Who funded it ? Where is it published ?

  2. Tom Bayes says:

    Fourth possibility: Basic lack of numeracy among the authors of this article.
    Donaldson clearly uses two figures (1 in 10) and – if this happens – (1 in 300). Therefore you need to multiply them together to get risk of dying if admitted. Taking into account rounding to 1 in 10 and to 1 in 300, 3,500 would be entirely constitent with what Donaldson said.

    Tom

  3. JustADoc says:

    Even doing your multiplication of 1/10 x 1/300 still gets you 4833 deaths. Which is still 38% off. That’s pretty far off.

    In addition, if similar numbers in the US are to believed(and while commonly cited there have been numerous problems noted with these numbers) then 100,000/year in the US die from errors in the hospital. Since only 2.5 million people a year die in the US that is 1/25 patients supposedly die at the hands of medical error. Well in England apparently only 1/3000 pt admissions results in an error death but in the US we apparently bump it up all the way to 1/25?!?? Seriously. 1 of the numbers is seriously seriously off.

  4. Tom Bayes says:

    As the House of Commons report makes clear it is difficult territory in which to be entirely accurate. Nevertheless the author of the article above has been very lazy and inaccurate. For example, they use a figure of 14.5m admissions to try and square an estimate in the HoC report, but this was published AFTER (October 2010) the House of Commons report! In fact when the HoC report was published in July 2009 the latest available estimate of the annual number of NHS admissions was for 2007/08 – that is, 13.5m. Assuming room for rounded of 10% on the “1 in 10″ and “1 in 300″ estimate to get rounded estimates, 3,500 is entirely consistent with Donaldson’s figures.

    All this highlights even more plainly how hopeless is the article above which claims “48,300 deaths cited by Professor Sir Liam Donaldson” when Donaldson clearly said nothing of the sort. A correction from Mr/Ms (Dr??) White Coat Blogger is due and keep him/her away from any decisions involving math that affect patient care.

    Tom

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