On Trial For Manslaughter For Failing to Predict Earthquake

Discussion in 'Science & Society' started by scheherazade, Sep 18, 2011.

  1. Asguard Kiss my dark side Valued Senior Member

    Umm it has nothing to do with lawyers, and everything to do with the fact that ambos dont get issued xray eyes. The whole point of our training is to "treat for the worst", not treat for the best. There are guidlines for ruling out a neck injury clinically but they are irrelivent for this thread. Basically just as all chest pain is concidered cardiac unless proven otherwise all neck pain is concidered C-spine untill proven otherwise if the pattens and mechisms of injury indicate a risk (ie not in someone who was sleeping in bed and just woke up with neck pain)
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  3. billvon Valued Senior Member

    Yes; EMT's cannot be 100% sure and are not trained to make diagnoses anyway. And my reply was targeted more towards doctors, since they (in this case) are the equivalent to the scientists referenced in the original post.

    However, speaking specifically about EMT's, there are cases where even EMT's can, with good assurance, tell someone they likely aren't injured. In such cases I think EMT's SHOULD tell people that.
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  5. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

    Now go back and re-read what I actually said, Bells, and try addressing that.

    Here it is:
    Let's examine the sequence of events, shall we?
    I do some groundwater contamination risk modelling.
    My director (for example) comes to me and asks me "Is there any risk of groundwater contamination in this region?
    My explicit response is "This area is of low risk of groundwater contamination according to the USEPA DRASTIC model, and there is no evidence to suggest that feacal contamination has occured".
    My Director then says to a member of the public "There is no risk of contamination of the groundwater in this area".
    The member of the public then contracts Hep C, which leads to liver cancer, because a lack of land use planning on the part of the local authority let them put their drinking water bore too close to their septic tank disposal field.

    And you're saying that I'm equivalently culpable?

    Let me put it to you another way. Do you think that the Mayor of L'Aquilla should be on the stand?

    Yes, and it seems that the significance of that - that they contradicted themselves, or each other, continues to fail to escape you.

    Not the argument I'm presenting, and frankly your continued insistance that it is is bordering on dishonest.

    I suggested it as a possibility, Bells, try addressing what I'm actually saying, just for a change.

    And yeah, it was de Bernadinis conference, not his, and I can see where there would be pressure for him to remain silent, he's previously had action taken against him for what turned out to be a false alarm, and there was something like a 98% chance of the correction being nothing more than a trivial technicality of no significance - and that's assuming he was actually listening to de Bernadinis in the first place.

    Once again, you're misrepresenting what I've said, and I'm fairly sure you're not that stupid, which leaves me wondering if you're deliberately lying?

    Maybe, if I remember to, when I get home from work. Although I sincerely doubt it contains anything new to me.
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2011
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  7. scheherazade Northern Horse Whisperer Valued Senior Member

    There is considerable interesting dialogue taking place on this thread, and by some I see a predilection to point to irresponsibility on the part of those who were tasked with informing the public of the risks involved prior to the 2009 earthquake which claimed many lives.

    We seem to be assuming that these people were not doing their job properly.

    Given the pervasive shadow of politics, I might wonder if they were doing precisely as instructed.

    The politics in Italy is hinted at being somewhat less than transparent.

    I have some small experience in knowing the difference between the job description and the mandate where politics is concerned.

    Try being the co-chair of the management board that votes for a wolf control program. Co-chairs don't vote and my own position was never discussed, yet I was receiving threats by fax from Europe as we were deliberating. Fortunate that this was just prior to the days of the internet, I'm thinking.:bugeye:
  8. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

    Only you would take that from what I said.
  9. Asguard Kiss my dark side Valued Senior Member

    a) we are trained to diognose, dont know where you are but paramedics are trained as front line health care proffessionals now, not "strecher barers". Treat not transport is becoming one of the most important options because it takes the burden off the hospitals and gives better outcomes for patients. Transport is now a treatment option open to us rather than being viewed as standed care.

    b) when it falls within the correct guidlines we DO tell pts they are uninjured. The guidelines are: no neck or back pain, no nerological imparement, over 16 years old (ie an adult), no distracting injuries.

    Ok? So can we get back on topic?

    The point is that if we give pisspoor advice which manipulates patients into acting AGAINST there own best intrests we can be held responcible for that and are. And the same goes for every other section of the community, when giving risk advice you need to be careful what you say and how you say it and its one of the main rolls of a scientist. these 6 are aleged to have been negligent in that roll and THAT is why they are being tried.
  10. billvon Valued Senior Member

    You gave an example where a patient who was most likely not injured was told he was most likely not injured, and that if he came in he would likely just be wasting his and the hospital's time. Is that a fair summary of your first example?
  11. Asguard Kiss my dark side Valued Senior Member

    yes and no, there was no different in the clinical cirumstances between the 2 examples. Both cases involved a car crash which resulted in neck pain after the crash, the patens and mechnisiums of injury suggest a high suspicion of spinal injury, the neck pain is enough to clinically treat the patient as a spinal patient. Infact thats what the guidlines recomend.

    This doesnt change between cases, what changes is how that infomation is put to the patient in order to GAIN CONSENT to transport. Ie both sets of ambos should be following there guidelines which state to transport this patient for CT because as i said before, we dont have x-ray eyes and they need a full trauma series and a cat scan to rule out spinal cord injury.

    The first is about bad communication, ie a disinterest ambo who is hoping the pt will refuse concent, sign the form and alow them to get back to there lunch or the movie they left on. They put the burden on the pt to refuse concent but they are manipulating the situation so that the pt "doesnt want to waste the hospitals time".

    The second MAY be manipulating the situation too, it depends on the state of the patient. However the reasons for it are to rule out injury, not to cover ass legally. Ie is the pt in a clear emotional state to make an informed and rational decision on there own if given a clear, unemotional, statment of risks and rewards concidering whats going on around them (there cars been smashed, they may have to face legal santions, others maybe injured, jobs might be at risk ect ect) and its argued by the ambulance services high ups (as well as some coronors cases) that no, patients arnt in a free state to give informed concent when in that situation. You may not agree with it or like that but its just the way things are. FR paticually will probably jump on this as "perternalistic" and "nanny" but thats irrelivent for the purposes of this thread.

    The issue in this thread is about the fact that these scientists are alleged to have NOT communicated the risks in a way which would give THE GENERAL PUBLIC (not other scientis), understanding both rationally and emotionally the risks and rewards of various actions under the cirumstances they were faced with. This is because they didnt have an opitunity to assess the risks and rewards of various actions (like sleeping in there cars or going away for a while or picking which buildings to stay in) because they were told there was no risk when the science didnt say this. If they DID correctly communicate the risk in language that could be understood by the general public then that would be a defense to the charges. If the goverment or other intrests manipulated the communication then that would be a defense. But the fact that they are scientists and the public is to stupid to understand scientific uncertianty (as trippy has implied) ISNT a defence, infact its an admission of guilt.

    When people are scared those who advise them must be EXTRA careful how they give that advice and must err on the side of caution, not risk. Thats why the bom give bushfire warnings. Just look at the advice from the CFS and bom for today (we arnt even close to bushfire season yet)

    why? because there is NEVER no risk
  12. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

    Some how from statements such as these:
    Wherein I suggest, imply, or state, or otherwise assert that de Bernadinis, as the person who gave out the bad advice, which was contrary to what the available evidence tells us he was told by his seismologists on the committee, at the time and before the main shock, and further suggest that members of local government should be held accountable for failing to enforce construction standards (Remember, Barberi is on record as saying had the quake occured in california, no one would have died, and has been vocally critical of Italian construction standards since at least 1998), and for failing to educate the people of Abbruzo on the risks of living in Abbruzo, I get vapid, inane commentary such as this:

    Which is one of the underlying points I have made in the above excerpts, with the difference being that when the press makes comments like:
    And the Judge of the case can make comments like:
    And that the Mayor of L'Aquila can make comments like:
    That I'm inclined to assume that the advice the seismologists that were on the committee, gave to the committee, was that the risk of a large earthquake could not be ruled out, because that's what all of the available evidence suggests. The corrollary of which is that if there is blame to be found within the commission, then it lies squarely at the feet of de Bernadinis, and de Bernadinis alone, because as far as I am concerned, when you step out side of the bounds of your expertise, outside of the bounds of what you have been told by your experts, and outside the bounds of what was agreed upon within the committee, then irrespective of how the public perceive your statement (because the public is not aware that what you're saying contradicts what you've been told), then you're acting alone, and should be held solely accountable.

    Clearly, the Mayor of L'aquila understood from Boschi's advice that the risk of an earthquake could not be ruled out, because he told reporters back in 2010 that he was "angered and worried" by what Boschi had said. So then clearly the fault in communication lies with the member of the committee that took it upon themselves to organize a press conference, for which he cut the meeting short, and at which he relayed the wrong advice, which contradicted the advice given in the memo - as presented and described by the prosecution, and as understood by the mayor of L'Aquilla, and seemingly understood by the judge of the case.
  13. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

    To put the above (meaning my post) more succinctly, and to phrase it in the language Pete used earlier in the thread, my opinion, such as it is at stands at the moment, is that I do not believe that (for example, Boschi) should be held liable for the advice given by de Bernadinis, because if we consider the Committee to be de Bernadinis' employer, then de Bernadinis' actions amount to a 'frolic' rather than a 'detour', and so vicarious liability should not be applied to the committee, because de Berandinis' advice to the public manifestly contradicted the advice given to him by the committee, and that (for example) Boschi carried out his duty by correctly informing the committee that the risk of a large earthquake could not be ruled out - as evidenced by the memo published before the earthquake, presented by the prosecution, evidenced by the judges words, and evidence by the Mayor of L'Aquila's recollection.

    Frankly though, the Judges criticism of the members for giving inexact advice sends chills up my spine, because exact advice would be an outright prediction.
  14. scheherazade Northern Horse Whisperer Valued Senior Member

    Okay people, especially scientists, I really think you might want to spare a moment for this.

    Rational thinking has been set back 1000 years in Italy, if these reports are accurate.


  15. Neverfly Banned Banned

    Not the first time Italy makes the news for absurd sentencing.

    It's this exact thing that makes me fearful we are headed in this direction in the United States.
  16. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

    What would a silly judge know about SCIENCE anyway??? Most of them were just lawyers/politicians before getting the job of judge!
  17. Pete It's not rocket surgery Registered Senior Member

    Despite the headlines, this trial was much more about risk communication than science.
    The complaint is not that the committee should have predicted a high risk of an earthquake in the next few days.
    The complaint is that the message given to the people was "There is no danger" (Nature), and that this message meant that some people who would otherwise have decided to get out of town stayed home instead.

    But regardless, the trial was always the wrong way to go. The problem with a trial is that its goal is very limited and rather dichotomous - it can only address whether person/s X are to blame for outcomes Y, and what their punishment should be.
    So, if you want someone to blame and punish, then a trial is perfect.

    But if you want to find out why something happened, to resolve the bad outcomes as well as possible, and reduce the risk of similar bad outcomes in future, then a trial is the wrong tool.
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2012
  18. Neverfly Banned Banned

    Makes me wish I was Batman, you know?

    I'd go over there, bust them out, bring them here and say, "Get a job."
    Why waste the training, education and talent? There's a city in California that will welcome them, I'm sure.

    If I ever run for President- don't elect me. Seriously.

    I'd be ordering Black Ops all over the world and creating political chaos.
    "Ah, look at that... an injustice. <Calls the A-Team.> We'll deal with that."
  19. kwhilborn Banned Banned

    Risk communication or not. No scientist should be held accountable for predictions/forecasts. If it was their expert opinions that the city was very safe then it should be treated as an opinion and not a contract.

    Italy should be ashamed to have this kind of mob mentality rule their courts.


    I'd vote for Neverfly. Send some Seals!
  20. Asguard Kiss my dark side Valued Senior Member

    Why? If that's your job then that's your responsibility just the same as an idiot doctor who said "don't worry about those abnormal papsmeare results, they don't turn into terminal cancer" (yes that did happen)
  21. kwhilborn Banned Banned

    @ Asguard,
    Forecasting and Diagnostics are not quite the same.

    Abnormal results from a doctor naturally warrant investigation. Aside from waiting for them to occur there is no way to be accurate forecasting natural events. I think a more accurate comparison would be trying to predict the odds in sporting events. I bet there are a few bookies who have had worse sentences than 6 years for making the wrong odds, but expecting complete accuracy is absurd. We never know when nature will complete a Hail Mary touchdown pass.

    How would this affect future forecasting? From now until the end of time any and all Seismologists in Italy would be Idiots if they do not always answer "Yes, an Earthquake is coming soon" despite their data. The elected officials obviously cannot be trusted.
  22. Asguard Kiss my dark side Valued Senior Member

    No actually they will think twice about making definitive predictions above what they can know.

    Instead of saying "there is no risk" it will be "there is a small risk but we don't believe anything else will happen"

    See the difference?

    These idiots tried to pretend they COULD definitively predict the future when they couldn't. Now I would like to see ALL snake oil salesmen held to the same standed but this is a good start. Risk management starts with honest and ACCURATE communication and when you provide crap info you have to be held to account.

    If you wish to see what I mean look at the BOM site, specifically the fire risk section. Even if its pissing down raining in the middle of winter it never says "no risk of bush fire" it says LOW risk of fire.

    This is the same reason the heads of the CFA and Victoria police got in the shit because they gave poor advice and poor leadership during black sat and it may well have cost lives
  23. Pete It's not rocket surgery Registered Senior Member

    A doctor's interpretation of an abnormal result is a scientific prediction. A seismologist is not a racecourse bookmaker.
    Experts can be, should be, and often are held accountable for their predictions.

    But, the problem in this case is not the expert prediction.

    There are two things that should not have happened:
    - the forecast was misleadingly communicated to the community on at least one occasion,
    - the experts were held responsible through a the process of criminal trial

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