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TEDxAntwerp 2014 “Naked” 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cbkdhD6BsoY 
Murder by 
Numbers 
Richard Gill, Univ. Leiden
TEDxAntwerp 2014 “Naked” 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cbkdhD6BsoY 
Murder by 
Numbers 
Richard Gill, Univ. Leiden 
If ...
Lucia de B. 
Reconstructie van 
een gerechtelijke 
dwaling 
Lucia de B. 
Reconstructie van een gerechtelijke dwaling 
Veen...
Whistleblowers 
Metta de Noo, 
Ton Derksen 
(2011)
Time-line 
• 2001 Suspicious death at Juliana Children’s hospital, the 
Hague; investigation of 30+ other suspicious death...
What really happened?
First, a step back 
Shifts Court data Corrected data 
JKZ MCU-1 incident incident 
Oct ’00 – Sept ’01 with without with wi...
Shifts Court data Corrected data 
JKZ MCU-1 incident incident 
Oct ’00 – Sept ’01 with without with without 
Lucia 
Elffer...
Some p-values 
• Elffers (2002) (original data) 1 in 342 million 
• Gill (2008) (corrected data, corrected method) 
variou...
The aftermath 
• Justice took the blame 
• Many lessons have been learnt by NL 
police, judiciary, forensic scientists 
• ...
What really happened? 
• Some more statistics … 
• Some more evidence …
Some more statistics 
• Before 2012, in NL, ca. 2000 deaths per year in 
hospitals caused by avoidable (and known) 
medica...
Some more evidence 
• Inconsistencies in medical evidence 
• Inconsistencies in the time-line prior to 2001 
• The deaths ...
Conclusion 
• When an airliner crashes, we investigate what 
happened, and take steps to prevent it ever 
happening again ...
Murder by Numbers
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Murder by Numbers

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The Dutch nurse Lucia de Berk spend 2 years under arrest and 6 years in prison with a life sentence for the murder of 7 babies and old people at several hospitals in the Hague (and attempted murder of 3 more). After a long public fight in which many scientists played a notable role, the conviction was reversed. The court even concluded that there had been no murders at all ... though deaths were often hastened by doctors' medical errors (mis-diagnosis, wrong medication, ... ) which till then had not even been mentioned - whether in court proceedings or in pulbic debate. Since the final verdict in 2010, there has been ... silence. Especially in the medical world: total silence.

The minister of justice apologized pulbicly, the Dutch tax-payer footed the bill. The medical community look the other way.

If you never admit mistakes, you can never learn from mistakes. It can all happen again, tomorrow.

Published in: Science, Technology, Education
  • Thank you Gunnar, that is really nice. I will try to give more good examples in future.
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  • Dear Richard. I remember the talk you gave on the subject, while I was a PhD student. It is unusual to show interest and use that amount of energy and time, pro-bono, in a controversy with large personal stakes, without a wish to steal the limelight. It is an example to follow for other leading scientists.
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Murder by Numbers

  1. 1. TEDxAntwerp 2014 “Naked” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cbkdhD6BsoY Murder by Numbers Richard Gill, Univ. Leiden
  2. 2. TEDxAntwerp 2014 “Naked” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cbkdhD6BsoY Murder by Numbers Richard Gill, Univ. Leiden If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything … Jef Staes, “The Naked Sheep” ! But what if you aim to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?
  3. 3. Lucia de B. Reconstructie van een gerechtelijke dwaling Lucia de B. Reconstructie van een gerechtelijke dwaling Veen Magazines Ton Derksen Ton Derksen (2006) (2011)
  4. 4. Whistleblowers Metta de Noo, Ton Derksen (2011)
  5. 5. Time-line • 2001 Suspicious death at Juliana Children’s hospital, the Hague; investigation of 30+ other suspicious deaths • 2003 Life sentence for 4 murders and 3 attempts Evidence: statistical:1 in 342 million chance of coincidence • 2004 Life sentence + TBS for 7 murders and 3 attempts All evidence: medical • 2006 Life sentence definitive • 2010 Conviction revoked. All deaths natural
  6. 6. What really happened?
  7. 7. First, a step back Shifts Court data Corrected data JKZ MCU-1 incident incident Oct ’00 – Sept ’01 with without with without Lucia with 9 b133 b7 b135 without 0 b887 b4 b883 RKZ-42 Aug – Nov ’97 Lucia with b6 b52 b5 b53 without b9 272 10 273 RKZ-41 Aug – Nov ’97 Lucia 1 with 1 bb0 1 bb2 without 4 361 4 359
  8. 8. Shifts Court data Corrected data JKZ MCU-1 incident incident Oct ’00 – Sept ’01 with without with without Lucia Elffers, 2002 Gill, 2008 with 9 b133 b7 b135 without 0 b887 b4 b883 RKZ-42 Aug – Nov ’97 Lucia with b6 b52 b5 b53 without b9 272 10 273 RKZ-41 Aug – Nov ’97 Lucia 1 with 1 bb0 1 bb2 without 4 361 4 359
  9. 9. Some p-values • Elffers (2002) (original data) 1 in 342 million • Gill (2008) (corrected data, corrected method) various, between 1 in 1000 and 1 in 25 ! • … and beware of prosecutor’s fallacy: Prob(Evidence | Innocent) isn’t same as Prob(Innocent | Evidence) Any top basketball player is probably a tall guy A tall guy is probably not a top basketball player
  10. 10. The aftermath • Justice took the blame • Many lessons have been learnt by NL police, judiciary, forensic scientists • In the medical world:
  11. 11. What really happened? • Some more statistics … • Some more evidence …
  12. 12. Some more statistics • Before 2012, in NL, ca. 2000 deaths per year in hospitals caused by avoidable (and known) medical errors • In the vast majority of cases, no admission of errors by doctors / hospital • Thanks to measures taken by minister of health, from 2012, number is halved!
  13. 13. Some more evidence • Inconsistencies in medical evidence • Inconsistencies in the time-line prior to 2001 • The deaths were natural (i.e.: only to be expected) … but hastened by faulty diagnosis, faulty treatment … known to those responsible? … never brought to attention of courts! Source: report toxicologist Meulenbelt (retrial, Arnhem): in depth analysis of three crucial cases
  14. 14. Conclusion • When an airliner crashes, we investigate what happened, and take steps to prevent it ever happening again • The Lucia case was a disaster • It can happen again, tomorrow @gill1109 Richard Gill, Univ. Leiden

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