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2020’s ‘The Dog Ate My Homework’ Universal Scapegoat: ‘The Algorithm’

Lenny Bernstein, Lateshia Beachum, and Hannah Knowles, reporting for The Washington Post:

Stanford Health Care apologized Friday for a plan that left nearly all of its young front-line doctors out of the first round of coronavirus vaccinations. […] The “residents” — medical school graduates who staff the hospital for several years as they learn specialties such as emergency medicine, internal medicine and family medicine — were furious when it became clear that just seven of the more than 1,300 at the medical center were in the first round for vaccinations. Also affected were “fellows,” who work in the hospital as they train further in sub-specialties, nurses and other staff.

Residents across specialties had just been asked to volunteer for extra intensive care unit work in preparation for a surge in covid-19 patients.

An email to pediatrics residents and fellows obtained by The Washington Post said that “the Stanford vaccine algorithm failed to prioritize house staff,” as the early year doctors are known collectively.

Blaming this on “the algorithm” is such ridiculous bullshit. What is an algorithm? It’s a set of rules and heuristics, created and decided by people. Blaming this on “the algorithm” is a shameless attempt to insinuate that they just put everyone into a system and the mean old computer decided to put front-line residents at the end of the list, when in fact, what they mean is, the people at Stanford who created the rules decided to put them at the end of the list. That’s their algorithm.

(Via Jim Ray, who’s angrier about this than I am.)

Saturday, 19 December 2020