Letter: Readers comment on Medical Economics stories

April 10, 2011

Letters discuss patients' cell phone usage and malpractice.

Dealing with patients and cell phones

I found an effective way to deal with patients talking on cell phones in the exam room ("Cell addiction in today's practice," [by Dwalia South, MD, FAAFP], February 10 issue). When I walked in on one such conversationalist, I apologized and said that I'd be back when he was off the phone. Then, I moved on to the next patient. When I returned 15 or 20 minutes later, the patient was off the phone and visibly angry but unable to complain, knowing the delay was his own fault. Word must have gotten around because I noticed that cell phone users promptly hung up when I walked into the exam room after that.

DAVID E. HANSON, MD
Savanna, Illinois

Congratulations to Christopher W. Roberts, MD, JD, FACP, FACEP ("The case for medical courts," February 10 issue). This article is one of the best that I have read in years about ongoing malpractice issues and reforms. In the end, I agree with him wholeheartedly. "Let the national experiment begin." Thanks for publishing it.

KISHAN C. AGARWAL, MD
Edison, New Jersey

Malpractice system is 'sick'

I have been a long-time reader of Medical Economics, and after reading this article, I decided to reply ("The case for medical courts," [by Christopher W. Roberts, MD, JD, FACP, FACEP], February 10 issue).

The entire healthcare and malpractice systems are sick. People take advantage of physicians being so vulnerable and try to sue at any given chance.

What bothers me is that not everyone is able to become a physician in this country. First, I think that those in our profession take the longest time in school and training to become well-trained licensed specialists. At least I do not know of any other professions that would take 11 to 13 years of education. Second, education is very expensive. Third, we handle people's lives and health and take great responsibility.

Does anybody know what we as physicians go through in everyday practice? What stress we are put through? And after all this, people are still taking advantage. It's because the government consists of attorneys, and therefore it is not willing to make any changes in malpractice law because the government does not want to lose its "piece of bread."

If it comes to a lawsuit, attorneys will make physicians miserable, useless, and humiliated to the point that physicians will no longer be able to practice. I strongly feel that if malpractice verdicts are limited to a maximum of $250,000, the entire healthcare system will change, and in fact, I think fewer mistakes will occur. Otherwise, the whole malpractice business only creates a great deal of anxiety in physicians. Nobody thinks that besides being doctors we are also human beings.

NELLY COHEN, MD
Brooklyn, New York

Grand prize article evokes memories

What a lovely story ("The Pong Principle," [by Thomas J. Ellis, MD], February 25 issue). My kids are grown, and thankfully they have turned out well. But even now, their smartphones interfere with our less frequent dinners together. The story made me smile and brought a happy tear to my face. Dr. Ellis will definitely survive these teen years and reap the benefits later.

We had a pool table, and the ping-pong table was on top. Since I missed all my shots, I never got to have the advantage of the back and forth "pong" that Dr. Ellis describes. Best wishes to him and his family.

JANE KANO, MD
Denver, Colorado

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