Specialists need to be involved; When judges favor plaintiffs' attorneys; Bayoneting the wounded
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Yes, there is a major communication problem among doctors and specialists that threatens coordination of care ["If you're losing patients to specialists," Sept. 19]. However, the lines of communication need to work both ways.
As an oncologist, I often learn of a condition I need to know about from the patient, not his referring physician. Also, I have discovered that patients have died only when we've called to confirm their appointment. I'd like to remind my referring physicians, "Clairvoyance is not a prerequisite for this job. Please call me."
Arnold Wax, MD
Keep up the good work, Texas docs ["Frivolous suits: These doctors bite back," Sept. 19]. If medicine is to survive, we need more fighters like you.
And take the fight to the judges who keep upholding plaintiffs' lawyers' positions. When judges are elected, you have something to hold over their heads. Mount a campaign and run them out of office at election time.
Here in California, our judges are rarely opposed. But, in the last local election that I paid any attention to, 40 percent of the voters signaled their disapproval of the incumbents by casting their votes for the empty slots under the unopposed judges' names.
Ann Ewalt Hamilton, MD
There seems to be an increasing call by physicians for universal healthcare. The latest was cardiologist Stephen Weinberg's "We're at the breaking point" ["Last Word," Sept. 19]. Weinberg is right that something must be done: Our healthcare system is approaching a meltdown. However, a universal system will only make things worse.
Doctors, don't delude yourselves that you won't be subject to further price controls under a universal system, because you most assuredly will. And under a single-payer system, you'll be even more vilified, and regulation will become even more burdensome. Medicare regulations already vary from state to state. Imagine expanding that confusion to all patients.
Please don't sell your souls to the false promises of a universal system. There are better options. Successful business models exist. If you put your faith in universal healthcare, you'll only be disappointed.
Randy R. Bauman
President, Delta Health Care
Cardiologist Stephen Weinberg is right on. To this family physician, it's blatantly obvious that our healthcare system is failing. An article in The New England Journal of Medicine [Aug. 20] clearly demonstrated the huge discrepancy in administrative costs between the US and Canada. It's amazing how many of our healthcare dollars are diverted to the insurance industry in one way or anotherfrom funding their operations to subsidizing their lobbying efforts. Not to mention the unseen cost of the time and resources wasted on insurance matters every day in our practices and hospitals.
Simply stated, we need a single-payer system that's universally accessible, affordable, and accountable.
Howie Wolf, MD
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Letters to the Editors. Medical Economics Dec. 19, 2003;80:9.