Famous last words, from Paul Krugman.
No one is more confident and self-assured than Paul Krugman. No one speaks with such absolute conviction.
Unfortunately, many readers take depth of conviction as a sign that someone is speaking the truth. It’s a very old rhetorical ploy, but it still works.
Everyone should recall Krugman’s by-now famous 2009 dictum about the British National Health Service:
In Britain, the government itself runs the hospitals and employs the doctors. We’ve all heard scare stories about how that works in practice; these stories are false.
Krugman should know enough not to make declarations of fact that are so easily falsifiable. then again, being Krugman means never having to admit to error.
Today, not the first time, we draw back the curtain on the wizard and expose one of his most egregious errors:
The London Telegraph reports on a study performed by the NHS itself about six months’ worth of horrific surgical mistakes:
Almost 40 NHS patients have undergone surgery on the wrong limb in a six-month period, according to new official statistics which reveal for the first time a catalogue of major hospital blunders.
Almost 150 patients suffered from major errors which are so simple and serious that they are categorised as "never events" between April and September.
They include 37 patients who had surgery on the wrong site, and 69 cases in which surgical instruments or swabs were left inside the body.
As though that were not enough, there’s this:
After wrong site surgery and leaving foreign objects in patients, the most common major blunder was giving the wrong implant or prosthesis. This occurred 21 times.
There were five cases of misplaced feeding tubes causing death or severe harm. The wrong drugs and overdoses were given, and the wrong type of blood transfused, causing death or severe harm.
Krugman notwithstanding, the scare stories are not all false.