Letters to the Editors
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While reading about FP Stan Naramore's struggle for justice after twoof his elderly patients died ["Compassionate care--or murder?"June 7], I was reminded of how Dr. Sam Sheppard was railroaded to prisonfor murdering his wife because the judge and jury disliked his persona andlifestyle.
If you start pumping gas in high school, and 10 years later you own astring of filling stations, have a flashy car, a flashy wife, a Rolex, diamondrings, and you play the horses, you'll be lauded in the local papers. "Localboy makes good." But if you're a physician and you act that way, Godhelp you if anyone accuses you of anything. -Dennis C. O'Connor, DO, Hemlock,MI, firstname.lastname@example.org
I appreciated reading "Doctors' thoughts--and feelings--about Littleton"[Memo from the Editor, June 7]. Though most parents actively promote theirchildren's physical, social, emotional, and intellectual growth, many haveneglected their responsibilities with respect to the children's spiritualdevelopment. As a result, a generation has grown up without clear standardsof right and wrong.
When a civilized society devalues morality, it shouldn't be surprisedto find violent, remorseless criminals--even adolescent ones--in its midst.- Thomas M. Chin, MD, Ivor, VA
My children and I cried as we watched the Littleton drama unfold, andwe talked for many days afterward about our feelings and how we'd deal withthe situation if it should ever occur here.
Then the unthinkable happened. My son came home saying there'd been abomb scare at school and one boy had threatened some classmates. The schoolwas closed for a day, but this boy was allowed to return when it reopened.He and a friend arrived with a gun, and proceeded to threaten more children.Fortunately, the culprits were apprehended before anyone was shot.
My son said that during the incident he remembered what we'd talked aboutthe day of the Littleton tragedy. He stayed calm.
I think talking and listening can prevent a lot of problems. Isn't thatwhat practicing medicine is all about? -Karen Oldham, MD, Lebanon, TN,email@example.com
Outlaw guns? You might as well outlaw bricks, gasoline, fertilizer, andpractically anything else that can be used as a weapon.-Donald C. Faust,MD, New Orleans, firstname.lastname@example.org
The boys involved in the shootings weren't any more or less disturbedthan thousands of others. There just happened to be a confluence of randomcircumstances that resulted in their drastic acting out.
Even at this late date, we're reluctant to seek counseling for ourselvesor our children. The misconception is that doing so is an admission of failure.-Murad Alam, MD, New York City, email@example.com
I learned early on how to use and respect firearms. My children willbe similarly exposed to them.
To eliminate this exposure is to mystify and magnify firearms. Then theonly awareness of them children gain will be from video games and TV, neitherof which provides education in gun safety. That's the job of knowledgeableand responsible parents.
Part of being responsible about firearms is securing all weapons so thatchildren can't gain access. -Gregory A. Hood, MD, La Mesa, CA, firstname.lastname@example.org
I have a solution to the problem of plastic surgeons Lisa Lynn Sowderand her partner, Phil Haeck, who couldn't decide what to call their potentialpartnership ["Name that practice!" April 12]. They ought to use"Doctors Hack and Sew." It's certainly memorable, if not flattering.-Sam Moorer Jr., MD,Tallahassee, email@example.com
I've run into the same situation as internist Philip Alper: I'm oftenforced to refer to specialists I don't know, simply because they're "onthe list" ["Alas, I've developed a bedside manner," June7].
I don't "shade the truth" about them, however. When patientsask me about a specialist I've never met, I reply that I have no knowledgeof this doctor or his work. I usually add that I've never heard anythingdisparaging about him, either. And I ask the patient to let me know abouthis experience, so I will have more knowledge in the future.
This has given me information about many fine physicians I hadn't previouslyknown, and let me expand my referral network. -Toby A. Geller, MD, EastBrunswick, NJ, firstname.lastname@example.org
I've been practicing for just a decade. Maybe that's why I don't shareAlper's views.
I keep my advice to patients separate from the financial arrangementsthat brought them to my office. I believe acquiescing to financial realitiesis just common sense. We serve our patients best when we work within theseconstraints. The variables, such as who's on the referral list, are outof the physician's control. -John L. Udell, MD, La Crosse, WI, email@example.com
It's true that we physicians have been forced to make some uncomfortablechanges in our practices, but we must choose our battles carefully. We oughtto embrace change that's driven by data and science, and stop renderingineffective treatments. Otherwise we're no better than the anecdote-drivenalternative practitioners that we rail against. -John H. Vassall II, MD,Seattle, firstname.lastname@example.org
I read in disbelief about the Healthcare Integrity and Protection DataBank, which the Feds will use to track fraud and abuse [Practice Beat, May10]. George Orwell's 1984--about the influence of encroaching government--wasright: Big Brother is watching. I can't imagine what this ridiculous"protection" bank will cost.
I'm also dismayed that the articles I read about the government's variousrecovery programs--correct-coding initiatives, fraud and abuse cases, etc.--onlydiscuss recovery. We're never told the cost of these programs. I suspectit's because the cost is often greater than the "recovery" itself.-Gary W. Thompson,President, Rocky Mountain Professional Consultants,Lakewood, CO
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Suzanne Duke. Letters to the Editors.