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April 12, 2005

Terri's "Expert" Doctor Got Diagnosis Badly Wrong in 1980

Court-appointed experts-- is there anything they don't know?:

A neurologist hired by Michael Schiavo to confirm that his wife Terri was in a persistent vegetative state said he was "105 percent sure" of that diagnosis, but Dr. Ronald Cranford expressed similar certainty about a patient he examined in 1980 who later regained both consciousness and the ability to communicate.

Three days before Terri Schiavo's death, Cranford appeared on the MSNBC talk program, "Scarborough Country," to discuss her condition. Cranford was interviewed by reporter Lisa Daniels.

DANIELS: Are you 100 percent correct in your opinion that Terri Schiavo is in a persistent vegetative state? Do you agree with that?

CRANFORD: I am 105 percent sure she is in a vegetative state. And the autopsy will show severe irreversible brain damage to the higher centers, yes.

DANIELS: Why are you so sure, doctor?

CRANFORD: Because I examined her ...

Cranford - who is assistant chief in neurology at the Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, Minn., professor of neurology at the University of Minnesota Medical School and a faculty associate at the university's Center for Bioethics - went on to call another neurologist who disagreed with his diagnosis "a charlatan" and accused Daniels of being "stupid."

Now that's professionalism. I've seen similar statements in court.

"Your honor, I object to that statement being allowed into evidence."

[Judge:] "On what grounds?"

"Because it's retarded."

[Judge:] "Counsel, your response?"

"I don't think it's retarded at all."

"Well, you wouldn't, would you? You're a retard yourself. Your honor, can I introduce exhibits to demonstrate that opposite counsel is, in fact, a retard?"

[Judge:] "What kind of exhibits?"

"Some doodles my esteemed colleague-slash-retard drew up just yesterday."

[Judge:] "What is the probative value of these exhibits?"

"Well, they show Godzilla eating a building with airplanes attacking him. And not only is that retarded in itself, but it doesn't even look like Godzilla. It looks more like Meatloaf from the video I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That), except with some crude spines drawn down his back. And the capacity to spew radioactive-fire breath."

"It's a work in progress, you moron. Besides, it's abstract. I was making a statement."

"What possible statement did you hope to make?"

"Oh, how about this for a statement: You suck."

[Judge:] "I've heard enough. Chambers immediately. Let's resolve this whole 'retard' issue before getting into tangencies about who may or may not suck."

Host and former U.S. Rep. Joe Scarborough interrupted to defend Daniels, touching off a clash with Cranford, which included the doctor admonishing Scarborough with: "You've got to get your facts straight."

Cranford also certain, but wrong about 1980 diagnosis

Cranford expressed similar certainty about another patient he declared to be in a persistent vegetative state (PVS) in 1980, former Minneapolis Police Sgt. David Mack.

''Sergeant Mack will never regain cognitive, sapient functioning,'' Cranford said six months after Mack was shot while serving a search warrant on Dec. 13, 1979. ''He will never be aware of his condition nor resume any degree of meaningful voluntary conscious interaction with his family or friends.''

Based on Cranford's unequivocal diagnosis of Mack, the officer's relatives removed him from a respirator in August 1980 "because his family felt he should be allowed to die rather than exist in such a state," according to published reports.

But Mack did not die.

On Oct. 22, 1981, 18 months after Cranford declared Mack's case hopeless, doctors at the advanced care facility where Mack was being treated noticed that he was awake. The Associated Press described Mack's recovery.

"A policeman considered 'vegetative' after being shot in the head in 1979 has come out of his coma and, although doctors caution he may never recover fully, he is spelling out some of his desires: 'TALK. WALK. SKI. DOG,'" the news report stated, explaining that someone would point to letters displayed in alphabetical order on a board while Mack nodded "yes" or "no" until the correct letter was reached.

Asked how he felt about his recovery, Mack smiled and spelled out "SPEECHLESS!"

"Doctors say Mack has recovered about 95 percent of his intellectual capabilities," the news account continued, "and can understand everything said to him."

Emphasis added. Except for that sub-hed, morons.

The really cool thing about Dr. Cranford's line of work is that if you play your cards right, and get yourself a sympathetic judge and an ex-husband hellbent on pulling a feeding tube, most of your misdiagnoses will never come to light.

Pretty sweet, eh? Beats OB/GYN to hell and back and that score.

Thanks to Alicia.

Nanotech Update: Within ten years, all pads will be equipped with nanotech-pencil leads that will draw perfect doodles for you, with vanishing points and perspective lines and all that other crap I could never understand no matter how many times I read How To Draw the Marvel Comics Way.

Give me a break, guys. I just want to know how to draw She-Hulk with cleavage that is pronounced and yet at the same time tastefully subtle.

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posted by Ace at 10:59 AM

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