Hospital gets low safety rating | March 28
Look beyond magazine ratings
This article noted that no Tampa Bay area hospital scored high. Tampa General was recently named the second-best hospital in Florida by U.S. News & World Report yet received only 43 out of 100 from the Consumer Reports analysis. Could this rating discrepancy be a result of the different variables present when dealing with different populations? Is it possible that the Consumer Reports ranking is not actually reflective of care provided by hospital staff but of some other variable influencing these outcomes?
Readmission was one area scored. I question which readmissions were due to noncompliance on the part of patients. Oftentimes patients who cannot afford or do not correctly take medications, do not care for post-op wounds as directed or do not follow dietary instructions end up returning to the hospital. The hospital takes the hit.
Before putting too much emphasis on nonscientific surveys that don't always paint an accurate picture of the quality of care provided by dedicated staff in some of these "low-ranking" facilities, I would encourage taking the time to do your own research. See what quality initiatives these facilities have put in place and how they have fared in other reviews and surveys.
I believe the best indicator of the overall functioning of a medical facility is its accreditation status. Independent organizations, most notably the Joint Commission, set accreditation standards that are nationally recognized. When medical facilities are accredited by the Joint Commission, this means they have undergone a rigorous review of their systems and processes to ensure they meet or exceed the community standard of care. Medical facilities that are accredited by the Joint Commission also agree to unannounced inspections and to openly post the Joint Commission complaint hotline. St. Petersburg General Hospital is accredited by the Joint Commission. That works for my family.
Jill Chase, St. Petersburg
Appeals court shuts off judge's 'sentencing path' | March 26
Modern-day debtor prison
Judge Thomas Freeman was admonished for keeping people tied to the court system and possibly in jail for many years if they were unable to pay fines. He may have had good motives, yet our Constitution protects us from debtors' prisons — except in divorce court.
People whose crime was to have been married are often forced to pay alimony for the rest of their natural lives. Until the day they die, they must support an ex-spouse or be put in jail. This has nothing to do with child support and applies to both women and men. Family courts in Florida and a few other backward states remain in the control of the divorce lawyers. And no wonder, as it is a $2 billion-per-year industry. These laws must be changed. Splitting assets and paying alimony for a period of time is fair. Paying until the day you die is abominable.
Linwood Gilbert, St. Petersburg
Must-have for 2014: your own Super PAC March 30
Money's grip tightens
In the landmark Citizens United decision, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority that "by definition an independent expenditure is political speech presented to the electorate that is not coordinated with a candidate." Kennedy and those who voted with him should now eat their words because of the unintended consequences of this law.
During the recent debates for U.S. House District 13, the candidates were asked whether they approved of all the outside commercials. Sounding a lot like Pontius Pilate washing his hands, they all expressed their displeasure. Yet the ads continued. They were funded by a huge amount of money and in almost all cases were negative.
For the upcoming 2014 elections, it will only get worse. Americans should mute their televisions.
Florence Laureira, Hudson
Close door to drilling off Florida's coast March 17, editorial
Testing brings benefits
Seismic testing off the coast of Florida is about much more than expanding our gas and oil reserves. Studies suggest that a commitment to allow seismic testing would have tremendous economic benefits for all Floridians and would help put more people back to work.
A recent American Petroleum Institute study showed that more than 9,000 jobs could be added by 2035 if the government lifted restrictions against exploration and drilling in the Atlantic Outer Continental Shelf. That means 9,000 Florida families could have more money in their pockets and more disposable income to spend at other Florida businesses. Couple that with $460 million in projected spending by exploration and development activity, and we have a scenario that is literally too good to pass up.
The benefits of testing are definitely worth lifting these restrictions. Our economy and labor force stand to benefit greatly if we just do the sensible and logical thing.
Marilyn Paul, Lakeland
Health care back in court | March 26
A matter of equality
This is one of those issues that is simply infuriating in the simple fact that it is an issue at all. Billions of dollars are covered every year in prescription drugs to help men have sex. No one derides these men. No one questions their morality.
Sixty percent of prescription contraceptives are prescribed for reasons other than contraception, and none are prescribed for facilitating sex. Ninety-eight percent of women, of all religions, have reported using contraceptives. This is about simple equality.
Mary Cook Colding, Tampa
For Rays deal, time nearly up March 31, editorial
Out from under debt
In this editorial, you state as a reason for building a new Rays stadium the fact that bonds issued to build the existing dome will be paid off in 2016. Across America, paying off a mortgage is cause for celebration. I have two years left on mine, and I assure you I will not run out and get another. I will have a mortgage-burning party and will start putting that money toward retirement. I'm glad the Times editorial board isn't my financial adviser.
Sam Jordan, St. Petersburg