The 1998 book Damages by Barry Werth chronicles a malpractice lawsuit in the US related to the 1984 birth of a boy with a severe brain injury.1 The book describes the devastating effects on all parties to the lawsuit of the boy’s complicated birth and early life and the overarching and at times oppressive demands of the litigation process.
MUSINGS - REVELATIONS - REVIEWS
Life expectancy in general and methods for calculating it
In Doctors are not experts on life expectancy1 David Strauss and Robert Shavelle noted that some clinicians testifying as expert witnesses on life expectancy did not have a very good grasp of the subject. As a result some were providing confusing and/or surprising opinions. The authors provided a number of examples. We can confirm that such misstatements continue to be made in this setting today, but the question of whether doctors are experts on life expectancy is not settled by such examples.
One of the most important aspects of good research is proper study design; no type or amount of statistical analysis can make up for a poorly designed study. In longitudinal research one of the most important aspects of study design is making sure that the temporal sequence of events is understood and recorded correctly. Errors in this arena can lead to misclassification of exposure time and differential follow-up between comparison groups. It is therefore crucial to understand time at risk in studies and correctly and fairly apply rules of follow-up to study subjects.