Paul Hartal


Medical Statistics


A wild snowstorm was raging in the city.
It was dark and the streets were deserted.
A savage wind hooted and shook the trees.
It blew the snow into her eyes.

Bundled up in winter clothes
Penny sped up the pace of her steps,
Hurrying to reach the safety of home.
The long ribbon of her red scarf
Flew and flopped in the roaring gale.

The roads were slippery and treacherous.
At a wrong step she stumbled and fell.
She landed with her outstretched hands
On the concrete sidewalk,
Hitting hard the icy surface.

In the hospital an orthopedic surgeon
Examined the x-rays. He diagnosed
A distal radius and ulna fracture
In the left forearm.

Penny broke her wrist. The doctor pulled
And tugged her bones to improve
The anatomical alignment of the broken ends
Trying to restore them to their natural position.

Then he immobilized the hand
With a plaster cast. It took about six weeks
For the broken bones to heal.

However, the orthopedist did not do
An outstanding job.
The fractured bone pieces had knitted
Rather poorly. The wrist looked
Deformed and lost part of its flexibility
Of movement.

The surgeon suggested
Reconstructive wrist operation.

“And what is the statistical risk
Of this operation? ” Penny asked.

“Oh, it is very small”, the doctor said.
“The success rate of this sort of
Corrective Osteotomy surgery
For post-traumatic wrist deformity
Is around 97 percent.
So, there is only a 3 percent chance
Of serious complications,
Such as median nerve paralysis.”

“But can you guarantee, doctor,
That I will not be included
In that small 3 percent group? ”

“No, I cannot guarantee that”, the doctor said.

Submitted: Thursday, November 10, 2011
Edited: Saturday, December 31, 2011

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