Saturday, June 6, 2015

Andreas Lubitz Consulted with "Dozens of Doctors"

You recall the German co-pilot who crashed his plane into the French Alps a couple of months ago.

Naturally, investigators are trying to figure out why he did it and why no one had seen that something was seriously wrong with him.

In a new report we discover that Andreas Lubbitz understood perfectly well that something was seriously wrong. So much so that he consult with “dozens of doctors.”

Surely, this does not speak well of the professional competence of German physicians. In the best circumstances it would be a major scandal. Malpractice, anyone?

The AP has the story:

A state prosecutor says a co-pilot with a history of depression who crashed a Germanwings airliner into the French Alps had reached out to dozens of doctors ahead of the disaster, a revelation that suggests Andreas Lubitz was seeking advice about an undisclosed ailment.

Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin, in comments to The Associated Press, would not address the question of what symptoms Lubitz was assessing.

For now the information is sketchy, but it is worth keeping in mind:

Investigators say Lubitz intentionally crashed the jet after locking the pilot out of the cockpit. German prosecutors have said that in the week before the crash, he spent time online researching suicide methods and cockpit door security - the earliest evidence of a premeditated act.

Late Thursday, Robin told the AP that Lubitz had also reached out to dozens of doctors in the period before the crash, without elaborating. That suggests Lubitz was desperate to find an explanation for some mental or physical ailment, even as he researched ways of killing himself and others.

Germanwings and parent company Lufthansa have said that Lubitz had passed all medical tests and was cleared by doctors as fit to fly.

One appreciates the subtlety and the irony: Lubitz “passed all medical tests and was cleared by doctors as fit to fly.”



2 comments:

Ares Olympus said...

re: In a new report we discover that Andreas Lubbitz understood perfectly well that something was seriously wrong. So much so that he consult with “dozens of doctors.” Surely, this does not speak well of the professional competence of German physicians. In the best circumstances it would be a major scandal. Malpractice, anyone?

A good point, but I still wonder what it means. If a patient tells a doctor "I have repeated fantasies or dreams of crashing a plane and killing hundreds of people", you can be sure they'll respond differently than say "Something is wrong with me, I feel anxious and confused."

So you can be sure in the first case that doctors will take that seriously and at minimum encourage him not to fly, and write up a prescription that tells his employer that he's not fit to fly. But more likely in the first case he'll be one step from getting locked in a psych ward for his truth telling.

But in the second case, perhaps he can just be prescribed for some anti-anxiety meds or something. But why did he see dozens of doctors and what answer was he looking for from them?

I watched some of the TV series House on Netflix and his line was "Everybody lies" and so perhaps doctors do have to consider the motives of a patient, and consider what he's covering up that is more embarressing, or more shameful, or risks losing something so he won't easily confess to someone who can, well, lock him up for saying the wrong things, or get him to lose his job.

I think I heard that doctors are required to keep confidentiality EXCEPT when the patient expresses a desire to harm themselves or someone else. So in the very least doctors have to accept they are not going to get that sort of information from a semirational patient.

So on one side, if a patient seems to WANT a doctor to say he shouldn't fly, and the doctor can't see any medical reason for it, he might be better off following what the patient wants. Of course that's the same problem with a hypochondriac, who wants an explanation for his symptoms, but in the case of public safety, it would seem better to error on the side of safety.

In fact, if things like this were more common airlines probably conclude they need a "no shame" way for pilots to step out of flying if they have any reason, including a hangover from the night before. But perhaps that still wouldn't be enough, since there'd still be consequences.

So perhaps another approach is training pilots and copilots to demand accountability from each other, and so if either is acting erratic, the other should be called by duty to question behavior like anxiety or distractability, and adjust responsibilities and protections at such times.

chanda harisna said...
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