The Seattle Times has an article entitled “Mistakes hospitals don’t want you to see“. In it, Carol Ostrom cites some statistics that are supposed to sound terrifying:
“Over the past year, hospitals in Washington left ‘foreign objects’ in 36 surgery patients. And 21 people got surgery on the wrong body parts.”
I didn’t wet my pants in fear at those numbers. In fact, I thought they were kind of low.
So, I checked to see how many surgical procedures are done in this state every year. The best I could find was the number of surgeries done nationwide by privately-funded in hospitals in 2003. That number is 7.1 million, making Washington’s share 142,000, give or take an spleen or a colon.
Let’s restate Ms. Ostrom’s sentence with meaningful statistics instead of biased, agenda-based ones:
“Over the past year, hospitals in Washington left ‘foreign objects’ in .025% of surgery patients. And .015% people got surgery on the wrong body parts.”
.025% and .015% failure rates? Toyota would happily rip it’s own arms off for that kind of a failure rate.
Come on Seattle Times and Ms. Ostrom. I know misunderstanding statistics is de rigueur in the news business these days, but I thought Seattle was supposed to be counter-culture.