Scientific Causation Methodology

Properly conducted scientific studies are the bedrock of modern scientific medicine. They demand that an established methodology be followed from which they never deviate. It is that methodology which ensures reproducibility and answers closest to the truth.

The same is true for the science of causality. Only through application of a consistent, rational methodology can one begin to arrive at reproducible answers and to approximate the truth.

Diagram of ICTM's Scientific Causation MethodologyIn 1982 we suggested an approach to causation analysis for use in victim compensation determinations — both regulatory and tort-related. I have called this the Can, Does, Did approach.

CAN: Can the agent(s) at issue produce this (these) disorders?

  1. Is there substantial and properly relevant animal data?
  2. Is there human evidence, particularly well controlled epidemiological data?

DOES: What does the patient have wrong with him or her?

This is a critical question which is often overlooked by claimants' experts.

  1. Does the patient truly have an immunological defect?
  2. Is the cancer actually a mesothelioma or were the slides improperly read?
  3. Who made the diagnosis? Was he qualified?
  4. How was the diagnosis made?

DID: Did the agent at issue cause it in this case?

  1. Have other causes been properly considered and ruled out?
  2. Has the exposure been confirmed?
  3. Was the exposure sufficient in dose and duration?
  4. Was the clinical pattern what one would expect from that causal agent?
  5. Is the morphological pattern consistent with that as a cause?
  6. Were the temporal relationship and/or latency periods appropriate?

Ultimately, the ICTM expert physicians, in forming their causal opinion, review the exposure data, medical records information and medical/scientific literature related to the case. All of this information is compiled and integrated in our proprietary TrialMap system to develop work products that are used by our experts and easily understood by our clients.

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