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Rare Event or Statistical Significance

The Spanish patients, two men and two women, were elderly and very ill. All four had undergone routine dialysis at the Hospital de la Princesa. Soon after, they began sweating and vomiting, some of them in excruciating pain. They died within a few hours of receiving treatment.

Nothing seemed exceptional about the deaths of those old, sick patients on dialysis, even though four deaths had occurred in four days at the same place. Hospital officials notified the manufacturers of the equipment involved, as dictated by protocol. But no one paid the incident much attention - until the following week, when people started dying in Valencia. " (Fast Company, 11/02)

QUESTION 1: At what point does the possibility that an event is more than coincidence become obvious? Consider this in terms of probability theory and statistical significance.

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Please see response attached, which is also presented below. I hope this helps and take care.

RESPONSE:

QUESTION 1: At what point does the possibility that an event is more than coincidence become obvious? Consider this in terms of probability theory and statistical significance.

These health officials could investigate these findings further through collecting more data and using probabilistic model to test for statistical significance. In other words, is the number of deaths for this equipment statistically significant when compared to other types of equipment? Let's look at some basics.

Basics

Easier Definition - A statistic is a fact or piece of information that is expressed as a number or percentage. The facts and figures that are collected and examined for information on a given subject are statistics. Probability is the likelihood of something happening or being true (i.e., what is the likelihood that the equipment is causing the patients to die?).

Harder Definition - Statistics is a set of methods used to collect and analyze data. Those statistical methods help people ...

Solution Summary

Based on the case scenario of four elderly patients dieing after a routine procedure, this solution explains when to consider the possibility that an event is more than coincidence, in terms of probability theory and statistical significance.

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