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Thursday's letters: As doctors do less, patients do more

Diagnostic mistakes common, yet ignored | Nov. 18

Doctors do less; patients do more

Although this is quite worth reporting, it is no surprise to those who, like me, spend or have spent much time with the health care system (in my case, caring for both elderly parents).

One case in point from my father's care: He had multiple (and some advanced) coronary issues; a Tampa hospital sent him home to die. We took him to New York where a fine doctor not only disagreed with the dire diagnosis but was able to handle the primary problem, giving my father years more life.

Causes are multiple in my experience: doctors who spend far too little time with patients (you touched on this in the article); a profession that no longer values the art/science of medical practice, so that internists, particularly, can no longer be relied upon to be the great diagnosticians they once were and rely far too heavily on testing; and a profession that has become so drastically specialized that each doctor's scope becomes ever more myopic.

The result is ever more time required of the patient or caregiver to do the doctor's work — researching symptoms and other possible causes for those symptoms beyond "the obvious" when treatment is not working, and finding the best practitioners for second and third opinions.

If you don't have that kind of time, and have a serious condition, you may very well end up like Daniel Witt.

A broken system indeed.

Terri Benincasa, Palm Harbor

Diagnostic mistakes common, yet ignored Nov. 18

Ask the right questions

Thank you to Jodie Tillman and the Times for bringing attention to an often ignored issue. It is beyond troubling to know that misdiagnoses are still such a common threat, despite our latest medical advances. It is another reminder that nothing can substitute the combination of a well-informed doctor, an engaged patient, and enough time to ask all the right questions and review all possible signs and symptoms to get the right diagnosis. But what else can we do to fix the problem?

Patients should be encouraged to know their personal and family medical history, and policymakers must motivate hospitals to study the issue without the fear of "gotcha" lawsuits. It is good to see many employers and health plans now offering expert second opinions as a free employee benefit. Steps like these are critical.

To reduce the terrible impacts of misdiagnoses, patients, care providers, and policymakers alike must commit to making the life-saving adjustments the system sorely lacks. Until this happens, we can only expect to see more of the same.

David Seligman, chairman and CEO, Best Doctors Inc., Boston

Florida doesn't scare this insurer | Nov. 17

A poor business plan

It's the policyholders who should be scared when a major storm hits. Paresh Patel said "the reality is none of us (takeout companies) have enough business to have a field force (of claims adjusters) in place."

No claims adjusters? Oh, they have contracts with adjusters from out of state, but in a big storm that spreads to other states, will there enough adjusters?

The takeout companies' business plan is to keep overhead as low as possible (no adjusters) and pray no storm hits until they have put enough money away. This like a bad movie.

Jim Cornwell, Tampa

Fest for foodies | Nov. 17

Showing off St. Petersburg

Our beautiful city of St. Petersburg and our great regional restaurants, along with the arts, were perfectly displayed last weekend as part of the Enjoy Arts and Tastes St. Pete festival. During Saturday's events I had the opportunity to talk to a young couple from Atlanta and they were filled with admiration for our downtown, our waterfront and the chefs and restaurants that had been gathered and presented. I am sure that, like us, they will be singing the praises of our wonderful region and our great restaurants.

Angelo Caravana, president, Caravan Contractors Inc., St. Petersburg

The perils and promises of Obamacare Nov. 20, commentaries

Change takes time

When "Romneycare" was introduced in Massachusetts, there were only 123 people who signed up the first month. From the beginning, the framers of this law knew it would take one to three years for it to become really effective.

That was true then, and it is now. But at no time were there all these vitriolic, hateful articles and media ranting and raving against it. Intelligent people waited to see how it worked. And it did work. Now, 97 to 98 percent of the people in Massachusetts have health care. There were "glitches" in the beginning, as there always are. If you ranters would look even once at the way Medicare, Social Security, etc., began, you would know it takes time.

Constance Spinney, Largo

Strait is chosen for top honor | Nov. 7

The death of country music

My wife and I are big country music fans. I play the guitar and sing sometimes before audiences, but my songs are in the category of real country songs such as those sung by Merle Haggard, Conway Twitty, Willie Nelson, George Strait and Alan Jackson, just to name a few.

We watched the Country Music Awards only because they were honoring the late, great George Jones. Out of all the pop/rock songs, there were only two or three that you could recognize as country songs.

Country music has died a slow, miserable death. Why must so-called "country stations" play everything but country music? Are there no new artists out there who will do for country music what George Strait did in 1981?

It's a shame that the country music industry is turning its back on tradition, on the music of life, living, loving and losing — music that speaks to the heart and soul like no other.

James Daley, Sun City Center

Thursday's letters: As doctors do less, patients do more 11/20/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, November 20, 2013 5:49pm]
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