Monday, November 22, 2010

ACLU Healthcare screeining

I was watching all the talking heads on TV discuss the TSA screening issue and how people are chosen at random to be checked as well as those who refuse the scanner. One of the commentators seemed to hit it on the head when he said "look, we cant just screen and pat down Islamic travelers who are traveling by themselves with one way tickets that are paid for in cash. That would be profiling! That is what the ACLU has filed suit about!"

I though about it and wondered how that would affect the practice of medicine if we followed the ACLU anti-profiling school of thought. We would be ordering PSA levels, pregnancy tests and sickle cell smears on every 80 y/o Caucasian female. Of course every male would need to have a pregnancy test before surgery not to mention a mammogram. We wouldn't want to profile of course, that might be discrimination.


Andrew_M_Garland said...

Consider that defensive medicine and its costs are exactly the result of not being able to profile effectively. At some point, a doctor's "profiling" (diagnostic knowledge and experience) has identified or eliminated diagnoses to within a small probability. Yet, some problems get through at a very low rate.

Instead of living with this fallability, the threat of a lawsuit prompts the doctor to send everyone through the scanner. This defends against the lawyer at great cost, but doesn't defend against the disease at any reasonable cost.

The TSA is defending against the political effects of another attack by screening for the physical characteristics of prior attacks. Worse, disease doesn't know that you are looking for it. But, terrorists are actively evading any fixed test that is deployed to find them.

Only refined profiling and cost-effective testing will prevent terrorism at a bearable cost. If the terrorists cause the US to spend $300 billion per year on security, then they have gotten a wonderful return on their investment in a few, failed attacks.

SeaSpray said...

Funny Throckmorton! I just don't get it. Things seem so obvious ..common sense obvious and yet ..they continually ignore the facts.

Terrorists must really be loving this.