When dialysis waits, doctor loses patience | June 14
Medical compassion suffers
I extend my sympathy to the family of the late James Harold Bischoff, whose premature and unnecessary death resulted from sick medical practices. I applaud Dr. Abraham Awwad for his rage.
Medicine, once the most highly respected calling, has lost its prestige. Scientific progress has been remarkable, but empathy and compassion are largely gone. The practicing physician, who formerly put the patient's welfare above all else, has too often lost his morality to an unfeeling corporate employer. Many physicians seem also to have sold out to pharmaceutical manufacturers and other vendors.
In contrast, when I entered practice in 1949, I took on a remunerative relationship with an HMO. I had to quit in three months when I realized that they placed quantity over quality. Years later, I was associated with a medical school hospital that served the patients of an HMO but subsidized their treatment in order to provide care meeting its own standards. When the hospital's benefactors could no longer afford that assistance, the hospital left the HMO rather than lower its standards.
It is no consolation that similar deterioration is widespread in our culture at large. Forgive me, though, if I expect more of medicine. Would that there were more like Dr. Awwad who still care for and about their patients.
Seymour S. Bluestone, M.D., retired, Clearwater
If doctors had chosen to align themselves with their patients as Dr. Abraham Awwad has, we wouldn't be looking at a health care disaster where compassion is in short supply. I am a doctor at the VA. I was a doctor in private practice for 16 years in Tampa. The pressure to be quiet about systemic ills that adversely affect patients is overwhelming.
I agree that every effort to reform a system should be from within. This makes health care systems better, and they look great. Ultimately, if all else fails then outrageous situations should be met with outrage by doctors who have the greatest chance to benefit patients. It should be a compliment to every doctor who stands up for patients to be referred to as "both passionate and a pain in the neck."
Nancy M. Kirk, M.D., Tampa
When dialysis waits, doctor loses patience and Obama's health plan aims to tap hospital funding June 14
Tort reform is essential to cut health care costs
I could not help but realize the irony of the article about the death of a dialysis patient due to outsourcing of this service by Largo Medical Center on Page 1A and President Barack Obama's plan to reduce reimbursements to hospitals by $200 billion on the following page.
These deaths will be all too common as hospitals try to survive financially by reducing or delaying services.
Do you not recall the crises when OB/GYNs stopped delivering babies because of the high insurance costs? The bottom line is that cutting payments to hospitals or physicians will cut services — plain and simple. Obama states, "If doctors have incentives to provide the best care instead of more care, we can help Americans avoid unnecessary hospital stays, treatments and tests that drive up costs."
Huh? The vast majority of physicians do provide the best care. What may be perceived as "unnecessary" is often due to the fear of malpractice. The system cannot be changed for the better without tort reform and nowhere has that been mentioned in the health care bill. Be careful what you wish for: More care may not be better.
Elizabeth Sirna, M.D., Clearwater
Oil money no boon
I've had a few questions lately about this idea of Florida getting oil-drilling revenues to help with its sagging budget — and things like schools. If you're swayed by this argument and big oil's latest push to put rigs off the tourism state, then you need to know something: Oil money from federal leases cannot be used for that kind of stuff. It can only be used to clean up the mess and damages from drilling.
Here's how the law allows royalty money to be used: mitigation of effects from drilling activities through onshore infrastructure projects; associated planning and administrative costs; coastal protection; and mitigation of damage to animals or natural resources.
There you have it. No budget windfall. Fact is, oil money won't build schools, or roads or pay teachers. It'll just "mitigate" (slow down ) the oil industry's ruination of the fourth largest state's economy and environment.
Bill Nelson, U.S. senator, Washington
Rays mess with heads | June 13, story
Penalizing the fans
The Tampa Bay Rays' recent decision to enforce a rule that limits the distribution of bobblehead items by the minor-league Threshers and other local minor-league teams is a direct blow to many local fans.
I am a Rays fan and attend about six Rays games a year, but I am also a Thresher fan because I like minor-league baseball. The ill-conceived decision by the Rays' front office to stop the distribution of bobble heads by the Threshers doesn't hurt the Threshers organization as much as it slights the fans. Most of the fans who attend these minor-league games are also Rays fans, and to deny them collections of baseball memorabilia is just plain petty and shortsighted.
I doubt that Major League Baseball cares about the bobbleheads, and the Rays have the ability to either enforce the rule or ignore it as they have in the past. I suggest the Rays should rethink this decision and let the fans enjoy their bobbleheads.
William Smith, Clearwater
Rays mess with heads | June 13, story
A petty play
Bobbleheads? The people in the Rays' front office need to get their priorities straight. They should be concentrating on winning games in the major leagues instead of wasting time worrying about their minor-league neighbor in Clearwater. Especially in this economy, the Clearwater Threshers provide family entertainment at a very reasonable price.
By being petty, the Rays only hurt their own image in the community. Maybe they should be looking internally at their marketing department if they're concerned a minor-league team is stealing their thunder. Joe Maddon and his players don't deserve this type of publicity.
Dee Kulp, Clearwater