Monday, November 10, 2008

But what if the test is wrong?

Kathy at Woman to Woman Childbirth Education has posted several great articles recently, including What does natural birth sound like and C-sections and Mastectomies. But I really wanted to focus on "But what if the test is wrong?" which reminds women to get a second opinion,
One question to keep in mind with this sort of thing is always, “What’s the false positive rate?” Because if a recommendation is made to you to induce or perform a C-section or have some other intervention based on one thing alone, and that “thing” is wrong almost half the time, then how confident can you — and the doctor, for that matter — be in the diagnosis and subsequent intervention. If, however, there is a low false-positive rate, then you can be more confident that your diagnosis is indeed accurate.
and to be wise in evaluating the risks of their options:
It’s one thing for doctors to say that having some medical condition or refusing some intervention “doubles your risk” — which sounds very bad — but it’s another to find out that the “risk” is still only 1 in 50,000 (which is double the risk of 1/100,000). Sure, nobody wants to be that one, but that means that 99,999 mothers and babies are subjected to an intervention which also carries risk. It’s about perspective — a balance — a trade-off between two different courses of action. Nothing in life is guaranteed (except death and taxes); and there are risks and benefits for every course of action. It’s up to you to choose which risks are acceptable for the proposed benefit.
I could not have said it better myself.

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