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March 21, 2012

BehindTheMedspeak: Why Doctors Die Differently — Episode 2: What do the numbers really mean?

2WSJ 2  death article

Episode 1 on February 26 featured excerpts from Dr. Ken Murray's bracing Wall Street Journal essay titled "Why Doctors Die Differently."

One passage read: "In reality, a 2010 study of more than 95,000 cases of CPR found that only 8% of patients survived for more than one month. Of these, only about 3% could lead a mostly normal life."

I wrote:

Now let's move on to the 8% of the 95,000 who did survive longer than a month.

That's 7,600 people.

"Of these, only about 3% could lead a mostly normal life."

3% of 7,600 = 228 people — out of 95,000 who received CPR.

Everyone who's not a doctor thinks they're going to be one of the 228 because they don't realize the denominator's not 228 but, rather, 95,000.

Reader Michael commented on the post, "The statement 'Of these, only about 3% could lead a mostly normal life' may well mean 3% of the original 95,000. That would be 2850 people, rather than 228. It's still bad odds."

I had had the same thought when I read the essay but Michael's comment was the inertia-breaker that led me to ask Dr. Murray himself, in a question in the comments section following his piece, for clarification.

My published question and a response from Dr. Ron Dobson clarifying things appear up top.

In fact, 3% of the original 95,000 = 2,850 people "could lead a mostly normal life."

Dr. Dobson added, "The more important point is not made, however, in that the 95,000 [consisted of adults of all ages], not just those, say > 55 (most arrests are >55) or those that occur in the hospital. For these (>55 and/or in the hospital) the figures are more dismal."

Dr. Murray also replied; his response is below

1WSJ death article

and well worth reading in its entirety, along with his superb February 25 essay.

March 21, 2012 at 02:01 PM | Permalink


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Comments

Relying on the NIH? Well, I do too.

Posted by: 6.02*10^23 | Mar 21, 2012 3:02:06 PM

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