“Inaccurate, Incomplete, & Irresponsible”

Why you shouldn’t believe everything you see in the media


Health care is a hot topic everywhere we look. CNN decided to target The Mayo Clinic in August, 2018 about a patient’s experience. This is a great example of “there are two sides to every story” and why you should investigate the sources from which you are receiving information.

CNN: Escape from the Mayo Clinic

At first glance, CNN depicts an 18 year old patient was being held hostage at Mayo Clinic hospital. She had a ruptured brain aneurysm in which Mayo neurosurgeons completed surgery to save her life. Yet the family was not happy with rehabilitation care and wanted to transfer her to a different hospital. CNN took reports from the family and used emotional phrases in the article to favor the family’s views. There is a detailed script of the family trying to lie to hospital staff to break their daughter free and following police involvement for the abduction of the patient. CNN touched on Mayo’s policies and the high risks of the patients’ health. CNN included details of how Mayo was going to extreme efforts to obtain legal guardianship over the patient, exclude the family, and incorporated experts in health ethics and law. All the experts made statements such as “from my 25 years of experience, why isn’t the family the best choice here” and “hospitals aren’t prisons” and “It’s so baffling why they didn’t try to…”.  They finalized the story with more emotional polls from the family: “They haven’t recovered emotionally from what happened at Mayo” and “I think that the doctor I made mad wanted to make sure that I paid for it no matter what.”

This seems like a very disturbing story… exactly what the author wants their readers to feel. Is it a coincidence that this story came out the same week that Mayo Clinic was rated the number 1 hospital by US News & World Report? Maybe that’s more pull to headline this story and get people interested.

Overall, there is obvious bias in this story. Not to say there are never conflicts with patient care, family involvement, hospital discharges, patient rights, staff safety, vulnerability, etc… the list could go on forever. Health care is clearly a complex system, yet what background validates these authors’ knowledge of patient care? Have these authors ever cared for a patient who should have died due to a brain aneurysm, have they ever assisted with rehabilitation or coordinating family care? Have they been involved with ethics committees or hospital policies?

Mayo countered (as any professional organization would):

  • Mayo Clinic removed the mother from the hospital due to her repeated aggressive and threatening behavior towards our staff.
  • Public court documents illustrate the challenges facing the family, including the August 10, 2018 court-ordered removal of five children from the mother’s home and allegations of abuse and substance abuse by the mother.
  • Mayo contacted law enforcement when the patient was removed from the hospital by the family against medical advice because we believed her life and safety were at risk if she did not receive appropriate medical care.
  • Mayo Clinic never refused a request for a transfer. We received a request to explore a transfer “within the coming week” on February 27, 2017 and did not have the chance to clarify and consider the request for a transfer of care before the patient was removed by the family from our care against medical advice on February 28, 2017.
  • We met with CNN on background with the agreement that the conversation would inform their reporting. We did not go on camera out of concern that this would bring undue attention to a vulnerable patient.
  • CNN’s incomplete reporting failed to include our informed and significant concern for the patient’s safety and the public and court records or interviews with family members not closely associated with the mother.

Mayo Clinic responds to false, sensationalized CNN story

“Inaccurate, incomplete and irresponsible reporting by CNN” -Mayo Clinic


Before you form any opinions or create any judgments on any topic, make sure you validate your sources. If you are not an expert on that topic and neither are the authors, than you better have time for more research.

2 thoughts on ““Inaccurate, Incomplete, & Irresponsible”

  1. It has gotten so bad, if college students wrote stuff like the media we would get kicked out for not citing our sources.
    But the worse part is people read and believe EVERYTHING it doesn’t matter how crazy it sounds

  2. I did not hear about this story, but that is very interesting. I like to think CNN is a more credible source for news with ethical journalists. The fact that they seemed to twist the story without all of the facts and statements from Mayo is crazy. Even the fact that the editor allowed the article to get published doesn’t make sense to me. News articles are supposed to be researched, factual, and unbiased. I wonder if CNN responded to Mayo’s response to their poorly informed and written article.

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