More on Theranos and Bad Blood

May 25, 2018

I finished the book Bad Blood, which chronicles the Theranos events. It was hard to put the book down as it is seldom to hear about events like this in your own field.

I experienced some of the things that happened at Theranos as I suspect many others did as they are not unique to Theranos such as:

  • Bad upper management, including a charismatic leader
  • Hiring unqualified people
  • Establishing unrealistic product development schedules
  • Loosing good people
  • Having design requirements that make little sense but cause project delays
  • Poor communication among groups

But I never experienced falsifying data.

Theranos started in 2003. By 2006, they were reporting patient results on a prototype. From 2006 until 2015, when the Wall Street Journal article appeared, they were unable to get their system to work reliably. Nine years is way too long for me too technology – the above bullet points may be an explanation.

Finally, a pathologist who wrote an amateur pathology blog was the source of the tip to the Wall Street Journal report (and Bad Blood author).

Added 5/26/18 – Among the Theranos claims was to be able to report hundreds of tests from a drop of blood. Had this been achieved it would have been remarkable. Another was that with all of these blood tests performed by Theranos, healthcare would be dramatically improved. This claim never made any sense. Most people are tested today with as many blood tests as needed.