Without evidence of benefit, an intervention should not be presumed to be beneficial or safe.

- Rogue Medic

The Need for Evidence Before Assessing Guilt

Cliff Tuttle at Pittsburgh Legal Back Talk has another post about blaming the medics in the death of Curtis Mitchell. I use his title for this post – The Need for Evidence Before Assessing Guilt.

This is the point we seem to have trouble with. This is another case of cognitive dissonance.[1] We make judgments based on the first thing we hear, or read. Based on that initial information, regardless of the accuracy of the information, we form opinions. When we demand punishment of the obviously guilty party, we have taken a position that we may feel that we must defend, regardless of the facts.

Chad writes in the comments to the earlier post at Pittsburgh Legal Back Talk – Medic’s Perspective on Mitchell Case.

The calls were cancelled after 2 hours, 1.5 hours, and 10 hours, respectively? Am I reading this correctly?

Yes, the time from the 911 call to cancellation was a long time in each case.

The important information that has not been released includes the amount of time from each 911 call to the dispatch of each ambulance.

This was an emergency for the city. Pittsburgh had many more 911 calls than ambulances. They had to decide when to send ambulances to which calls.

Curtis Mitchell called for abdominal pain, which their system identifies as a low priority call, so ambulances were sent to other calls first.

Other important information includes the time from each ambulance notifying dispatch that the ambulance was stuck in the snow/ice until the time that each ambulance was canceled.

How much time from the ambulance being stuck in the snow until a supervisor arrived with a 4 wheel drive vehicle?

What were the orders for the medics, when they notified dispatch that they were stuck?

Were they told to try to make it to the caller?

Were they told to try to dig themselves out?

Were they told to wait for a supervisor?

Were they told to wait for a snowplow?

There is a lot that we do not know, but that has not stopped people from blaming the medics.

This lack of information, that some people have decided to fill with misinformation, has not stopped people from claiming that they know what the medics should have done.

6 medics, an unknown number of supervisors, and unknown others were involved in 3 attempts to get to Curtis Mitchell.

Each attempt was canceled prior to the medics reaching Mr. Mitchell.

Public Safety Director Michael Huss spoke at a press conference –

Mr. Huss said they should have walked to Mr. Mitchell’s home to retrieve him. “It’s that simple,” he said.[2]

Any time someone is telling us that something is simple, we need to be suspicious. When I am told that something is simple, I expect to learn something or I expect to be lied to. I don’t think I learned anything from the statement.

Public Safety Director Michael Huss is reported to have had the call review from the city’s medical director before the press conference. He is reported to have released this document, labeled This is a confidential document generated as part of the Continuous Quality Improvement program for the City of Pittsburgh Department of Public Safety and the Allegheny County Emergency Operations Center,[3] to the press.

Then Public Safety Director Michael Huss stated that the explanation for the death of Curtis Mitchell is as simple as placing all of the blame on the medics.

However, the medical director did not place the blame on the medics in his call review.

Why did Public Safety Director Michael Huss ignore the findings of the medical director?

As Cliff Tuttle states –

We need facts, based on solid evidence — not the kind presumed in political rhetoric spread about by persons who have no personal knowledge of how these 911 calls were handled.[4]

This is not as simple as the statement of Public Safety Director Michael Huss.

This is not as expedient as the statement of Public Safety Director Michael Huss.

This is the only way that we will find out what did happen.

We need to find out what the facts are.

We need to consider re-evaluating our opinions, if the facts do not agree with our opinions.

My other posts on the death of Curtis Mitchell –

City may discipline EMS workers – Public Safety Director Michael Huss – 02/18/10

Where Was Public Safety Director Michael Huss during the Death of Curtis Mitchell? – 02/20/10

Public Safety Director Michael Huss and Others Continue to Blame the Medics for the Snow – 02/22/10

The Need for Evidence Before Assessing Guilt – 02/24/10

Anonymous Comments on the Death of Curtis Mitchell – 03/02/10

Podcasting, Critical Judgment, and the Death of Curtis Mitchell Part I – 03/22/10

Podcasting, Critical Judgment, and the Death of Curtis Mitchell Part II – 03/22/10

Podcasting, Critical Judgment, and the Death of Curtis Mitchell Part III – 03/22/10

What kind of punishment do you get for NOT disobeying dispatch? – 03/23/10

The Scapegoats Will Be Punished – 03/23/10

Pittsburgh – Punishment, not Planning – 03/24/10

Josie Dimon was the Scapegoat of Public Safety Director Michael Huss in the Death of Curtis Mitchell – 02/16/11

Michael Huss – Pittsburgh EMS Only Needs Someone Good With a Shovel – 02/16/11

Links updated 02/16/11.

Footnotes:

[1] Cognitive Dissonance
Wikipedia
Article

[2] City may discipline EMS workers – Man died at home despite repeated calls to 911 during snowstorm
Thursday, February 18, 2010
By Sadie Gurman,
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Article

[3] Medical Call Review for 5161 Chaplain Way 2/6/2010
Ron Roth, MD Final 2/15/10
Medical Director, City of Pittsburgh, Department of Public Safety
Medical Director, Allegheny County Emergency Operations Center
Free Full Text

[4] The Need for Evidence Before Assessing Guilt
Pittsburgh Legal Back Talk
Article

.

Trackbacks

  1. […] The Need for Evidence Before Assessing Guilt Filed Under: Critical Judgment, Heresy, Irrational Government Oversight, MedicCast Tagged With: Critical Judgment, Irrational Government Oversight […]

Speak Your Mind