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David Mittleman
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Is 99% Of The Time Good Enough?

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A Sparrow Hospital "distracted" lab-technician confused two samples of a deceased woman’s blood and urine samples, mistakenly finding that she had no alcohol in her system the night she died in a single car accident. When really, 21-year old Ashley Cripe, had more than two times the legal limit of alcohol in her system the night she died. So how did the lab technician get it so wrong? Sparrow’s response–"human error."

A spokesman for Sparrow Hospital said the initial findings happened because a lab technician tested someone else’s blood sample twice. The Livingston County Sheriff’s Department probed further into the issue after hearing reports that Ashley Cripe had been at a bar in Flint the evening that she died. The spokesman for Sparrow maintained that the Sparrow lab has a 99.999% accuracy rate and that "[n]obody’s perfect". He further stated, "[t]he phone could ring. Somebody could talk to you. You could grab the wrong test tube. That’s kind of what basically happened in this case." So that beg’s the question, is 99% of the time good enough?

If the facts of this case were twisted a little and instead of this being a single car accident, two cars were involved, the blood and urine results could determine a persons fate. If someone were mistakenly charged with driving twice over the legal limit and for murdering another person, 99% of the time wouldn’t be good enough. Just like a pilot landing a plane safely 99% of the time, wouldn’t be good enough. Or a doctor giving a couple the right baby 99% of the time, wouldn’t be good enough. Should we really be holding lab-technicians to a different standard?