Green categorically dismisses, with a chuckle in light of Halloween festivities this week, any suggestion the CDC anomaly could reflect the existence of zombies, or that it is possible for a patient to be alive and dead at the same time.
"I can't begin to speculate on what led to these errors, but one of the possibilities is the use of personnel who don't have a strong command of medical terminology," Green says.
The CDC database in question is the National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey or NHAMCS, which contains information on more than 350,000 emergency department visits between 2000 to 2009, the period used by Green for his analysis.
Among his study's other findings, Green says, of 875 intubated patients, 27% had incompatible dispositions. For example, 9% were reportedly discharged, 17% were admitted to a non-critical care unit.