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The trust evoked by a white coat, No one should be above the law, No peer review immunity from this federal law, Hiring a PA? Get the facts first
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How powerful stereotypes can be! In "White coats, drowning horses" [June 21] a psychiatric patient reveals the truth about his medical history only after the author, a third-year medical student, visits him wearing a white coat.
We physicians often easily divest ourselves of the "doctor-in-the-white-coat" stereotype, as on weekend rounds when we tend to dress down. Yet your story clearly dramatizes the fact that our patients, especially when critically ill, may find it difficult to respond to us as doctors when we just don't look like one. Perhaps white coats should be worn on all services.
Please don't feature stories about illegal aliens, people who are simply cheaters and liars pushing their way to the front of the line. As much as we may sympathize with the tragic demise of Maria, the beautiful migrant worker in "What caused this young mother's death?" [June 21], we should bear in mind that horning your way ahead of others waiting patiently to enter the US legally just isn't fair.
We simply don't have enough room for all the people who would like to come here, so we have laws to prevent our being inundated.
"This doctor's peer review suit cost him $240,000" [June 21] superbly described the obstacles to challenging peer review. Your readers may also be interested in knowing physicians suffering from mental or other impairments are protected against hospital suspensions by the Americans with Disabilities Act. The US Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit has permitted a doctor with attention-deficit disorder to cite the Act in an action against a hospital that summarily suspended his medical staff privileges without notice or hearing soon after he was diagnosed with ADD [Menkowitz v. Pottstown Memorial Medical Center, 154 F.3d 113 (3d Cir. 1998)].
Your cover story "Practice Pointers: Is your practice staffed correctly?" [June 21] included misinformation about physician assistants. Contrary to your article, it is not uncommon for PAs to share call. In fact, the American Academy of Physician Assistants' 2001 Annual Physician Assistant Census found that 34 percent of PAs take call for their supervising physicians.
The article also states that the typical salary of a PA is $62,000. According to the AAPA census report, the median salary for all PAs is $67,743; the mean is $71,046.
Proper staffing is vital to a medical practice. You can find accurate data to help you choose the right providers for your health care team atwww.aapa.org/research/index.html .
VP, Communications and Information Services
American Academy of Physician Assistants
Editor's Note: The source of the PA and NP salary statistics reported in the article is the 2002 Review of Allied Health Care Professional Recruitment Incentives (based on 2001 data) conducted by Allied Consulting.
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Letters to the Editors. Medical Economics 2002;19:8.