Wednesday, March 30, 2005

CodeBlueBlog Challenge

Award-winning medical CodeBlueBlog is getting tired, "Real Tired," of people playing neurologist and bioethicist for the media.

[H]ave you had enough of bioethicists for a while? Why is it they all have the same opinion and they all start out their spiels by saying "this is a tragic case for everyone involved..."

The Doctor is putting his money where his mouth is:

To prove my point I am offering $100,000 on a $25,000 wager for ANY neurologist (and $125,000 for any neurologist/bioethicist) involved in Terri Schiavo's case--including all the neurologists reviewed on television and in the newspapers who can accurately single out PVS patients from functioning patients with better than 60% accuracy on CT scans.

I will provide 100 single cuts from 100 different patient's brain CT's. All the neurologist has to do is say which ones represent patients with PVS and which do not.

If the neurologist can be right 6 out of 10 times he wins the $100,000.

Will anyone take the challenge?

Are neurologists experts at CT interpretation?

In a word, No:

Then there's the infamous Dr. Ronald Cranford, who has the double-whammy credentials of neurologist AND bioethicist (have you had enough of bioethicists for a while? Why is it they all have the same opinion and they all start out their spiels by saying "this is a tragic case for everyone involved...") who also defined Terri's CT of the brain asĀ  being as bad as he's seen.

So What Have You Seen?

I've watched a steady stream of neurologists, bioethicists, and neurologist/bioethicists from Columbia, Cornell, and NYU interviewed all week on Fox and CNN and MSNBC. They all said about the same thing, that Terri's CT scan was "the worst they'd ever seen"or "as bad as they've ever seen."

Here's the problem with these experts: THEY DON'T INTERPRET CT SCANS OF THE BRAIN. RADIOLOGISTS DO.


You see, a neurologist will look at the CT of the brain of one of his patients, but this is entirely different from interpreting CT's of the brain de novo, for a living, every day, without knowing the diagnosis and most times without a good history. In addition, whereas I heard Dr. Crandon say he's "seen" a thousand brain CT's... well I've interpreted over 10,000 brain CT's. There's a big difference.

When I look at a CT of the brain every case is a new mystery about a patient Idon't know. I must look at the images, come to a conclusion, dictate my findings and report a conclusion. This becomes a part of the official legal record for which I am liable. I bill Medicare for a CT interpretation and am paid for this service.

Neurologists do not do this. They don't go on the record, alone, in written legal documents stating their impressions about CT's of the brain. The neurologist doesn't get sued for making a mistake on an opinion of a CT of the brain THE RADIOLOGIST DOES.

An observation born of experience:

I have seen several neurologists -- in the printed media and on television -- put up a Representative CT of the brain of a normal 25 year old female and contrast this with Terri Schiavo's CT. This is a totally spurious comparison. No one is disputing that Terri Schiavo does not have the CT of a 25 year old female.

What I'm saying is that Terri Schiavo's CT could be the brain of an eighty or ninety year old person who is not in a vegetative state. THOSE are the CT scans we should be showing next to Schiavo's, because in THAT case you would see similar atrophy and a brain much closer to Schiavo's.

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