Standards of Care

You have the enormous responsibility for safeguarding lives. You're not sure how to proceed in a particular case, so you (grudgingly) ask for a consult. The consultant team is widely regarded as fair and impartial. They end up recommending an urgent, costly plan. What's more, they don't promise the plan will guarantee success, and they candidly admit you might get by without following the plan.

Still, the vast majority of physicians would follow such a consultant's recommendations. For one, an expert's opinion is usually what's best for your patient. And two, it covers the doctor's ass if something does go wrong.

But say I'm not talking about medicine -- I'm talking about government. And the consultant is the National Committee on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States. Their urgent and expensive recommendations are freely available.

A physician doesn't think twice about following tough recommendations, if it's remotely possible the plan will save lives. On the other hand, when the 9/11 Committee report was first released, the Congress, and the President, were not even considering whether to return from vacation.