The Baytown Sun from Baytown, Texas on April 29, 1986 · Page 5
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April 29, 1986

The Baytown Sun from Baytown, Texas · Page 5

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Baytown, Texas
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Tuesday, April 29, 1986
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Page 5
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Dr. Goff THE BAYTOW1N SUN We seem increasingly to be living in the Lottery Generation. State lotteries routinely give "way millions of dollars to wonderfully ordinary citizens who plunk down a buck or two and pick a few numbers. Later, on the evening news, we are treated to the spectacle of elevator operators and factory . workers who win more money than a corporate raider. These lucky winners are set for life; they can kiss their grimy jobs goodbye, .purchase a Rolls and move to air-conditioned splendor in the Sunbelt. We all envy them. Lotteries are probably harmless. They reward the average person without respect to age, race, sex or religion. They swell state coffers; they provide jobs. More important, Ihey provide hope. Nevertheless, I'm concerned that the Lottery Mentality — a big payoff on very little invest- Malpractice mentality likened to lottery ment — may be one explanation for the current malpractice disaster that continues to contaminate the day-to-day service given by doctors. From what I read, and in talking to colleagues, I am beginning to perceive that increasing numbers of paitents are viewing medical care as a lottery, with financial rewards — not health — as the goal. To the practicing physician and surgeon, each patient is becoming a liability rather than a person who needs help. Soon, the public is going to realize that this is not the way the system of health care will work most effectively. A few years ago, while taking a patient's medical history, I asked a routine question about how many children he had. "I had four," he replied, "We lost one at 2 years of age." "How did that happen?" I inquired. "Well," he said, "the doctor gave her a diptherla shot and she died." "That's awful," I sympathized. "Did you sue?" "Hell, no!" he exclaimed. "The doc did the best he could. It was just one of those things." I don't want to return to the days when normal 2-year-olds died from immunization injections, nor am I suggesting that patients who are injured by doctors should not attempt to receive legal recompense. However, the pendulum has swung right off the clock. The goose that lays golden malpractice awards is on the way to being cooked. Some doctors are now required to pay up to $100,000 a year in malpractice premiums. Of course, they pass on the overhead to patients, causing futher escalation of medical costs. Many experts predict that, before long, malpractice insurance may simply dry up; it Rusty Brown may not be available at any fee. Then doctors will have to make agonizing decision about whether or not they can afford to practice medicine at all. Society, the consumer and the patient will suffer. There is truth in my patient's state that "it was just one of those things." Life itself is brimming with unpredictabilities; medications are risky; surgery is dangerous. You might be interested in looking at workman's compensation benefits. In my state, loss of a hand is "worth $78,120; a finger, $8,060 — $16,740; one eye, $72,850; hearing in both ears $48,360. That's what a worker is paid if he or she is seriously injured, in a variety of ways, on the job. However, if the person loses an appendage, or sight, or hearing because of a medical mishap, the damages are likely to be in the millions of dollars. We need some consistency here. The loss of a leg in a mttl accident is just as tragic and disabling as loss of a limb from a •surgical mistake, yet it is compensated at far less ($73,780) than its medical counterpart. Doctors may need to "act perfect" and not acknowledge their mistakes because to do otherwise would be to invite calamitous lawsuits. Some patients — indeed, some judges — see malpractice as a lottery. In our litigious society, ordinary dangers become someone's fault. An unpleasant outcome, even a temporary one, is rarely considered to be "one of those things." 1 am not one who whines about the problems doctors have. However, I think the public must realize the extent to which malpractice concerns and frivolous suits are affecting every practicing doctor - the rwtty *>od ones, too. if ,e**fr0t bring thcunoojyui to „• adopt a less nnancfaUy-orfented outlook, medical care as we toow it will deteriorate Into what has already been called "defensive medicine": the * prtocuupation with protecting one's flanks in preference to treating and healing the sick. Medical care must not ^degenerate Into a lottery. Under sttch an arrangement, for every winner there are a lot of losers. And it is truly the patients who will lose in a medical-lottery system. Send your questions to Dr. Gott in care of this newspaper at P.O. Box 91428, Cleveland, OH 44101. Due to volume of mail, Individual questions cannot be answered. Questions of general interest will be answered iii future columns. Peiff Gon a a calumniator \twipaptr Emrrpriie Anociftio* _. I 'Out of Africa' author embodied ideal values There is much to admire in the • lite of the extraordinary woman in the Academy-award winning 'movie. "Out of Africa." Isak Dinesen, pen name for Karen '. Blixen. was a philosopher and adventurer, pragmatic businesswoman and romantic teller of tales. ! am pleased that the film's 'popularity has revived her 1937 book into a 1986 best-seller. 1 myself stumbled across "Out Of Africa." more than 20 years ago. shortly after the death of its Danish author, who ran a coffee plantation in Kenya. Hauntingly written, there are fragments of her compelling prose that never left me. One was her description of a herd of buffalo coming "out of the morning mist under a copper sky. one by one. as if the dark and massive ironliive animals were not approaching, but were being created before my eyes and sent out as they were finished." Another unforgotten line was tlie African chant when spring rains finally began after the long months of hot. dry weather. "Give me enough and more than enough," the Africans beseeched the sky. "I will not let thee go. except tliou bless me." Oinesen adapted the plea to I ho visitors who came and went from her comfortable far house. She wrote: "They sat contented by the fire and when the house, closing round them said. '1 will not let you go except you bless me.' they laughed and blessed it. and it let them go." At 78, emaciated and dying long after lier years in Africa^ slKMold a friend that life had blessed her and she was ready to let it go. Isak Dinesen embodied many of the strengths women today value and strive for. She once said to her sister, "I think it will be truly glorious when women become real people and have the whole world open to them." She became "real" in Africa. She learned from the Kikuyu to be a risktaker — "to be adjusted for the unforeseen and acustom- ed to the unexpected." She struggled on her own to keep the farm going for 17 years despite insufficient rain and the wrong kind of soil. Her day-to-day challenges instilled in her a sense of pride she did not have before. Africa also taught her the importance of nurturing our relationship with our environment. She once adopted an orphaned antelope, who darted in and out of the house on thin, delicate legs. "Lulu came in from the wild world to show that we were on good terms with it. and she made my house one with the African landscape, so that nobody could tell where one stopped and the other began." The Danish baroness was an instinctive leader and she became one to the people who lived on her land. Her understanding of the role would stand up to any definition written by a Harvard MB A. "There is a paradoxical moment in the relation between the leaders and the followers: that they should see every weakness . and failing in him so clearly . and yet should still inevitably turn to him. A flock of sheep may be feeling the same toward the Stereo quality usually excellent at any price By CONSUMER REPORTS You don't need to spend a lot to get a good stereo receiver. Consumer Reports' electronics engineers say that the solid-state circuitry in today's units virtually guarantees good performance at any price level. Of course, there are differences between inexpensive, "bare-bones" receivers and more expensive, full-featured models. For instance, you will get more power, more accommodations for other components and more controls with expensive stereo receivers that you will with those at the bottom of the price scale. But if your budget for hi-fi equipment is limited, and you can live without extra features, Jlny one of the 20 basic receivers recently tested by the engineers should be more than satisfactory. Although the units were priced from $140 to $210, some may actually sell for as little as S120. The basic receivers generally earned high scores in the engineers' tests. For instance, phone performance was judged top-notch throughout. The units' overall FM performance also earned high scores. Most did well in the engineers' tests. Even at high volume levels, most of the receivers were free from audible distortion. None of the tested units were very powerful. Their power output, while enough for a typical living room, was about half that of receivers in the $250-$300 price range. The engineers explain that the low power translates into an audible difference that's about the same as turning down the volume on a high-powered model a little. Gary Clemmons 420-1788 Pension Plans • Tax Shelters • Portfolio Management • Retirement Planning herdboy, they will have infinitely better knowledge of the country and the weather than he. and still will be walking after him. if needs be. straight into the abyss." She repaid the loyalty of her followers, going to great lengths to secure a refuge for them, when the farm had to bo abandoned and sold. Afterall. she reasoned, the natives had held the land, undisputed, long before the British came. When she finally departed in 19:51. she wondered it Africa would know a song of her: "Would the air OVI.M- the plain quiver with a color thai I hud had on. or the children invent a game in which my name was . or would the eagles of Xgong look out for me?" Isak Dinesen need not have 'wondered. She wrote a song of Alrlca that has blessed us for 50. y«rars, the song of a woman who ItOtnd her full measure at the fc»t of the N gong hills. Rusty Bruwn a a columnist for \fwspaptr Paper Enttrprut * ' TrrmtiMTTnirrnro Now is lowest By US. Govt. testing method SURGEON GENERAL'S WARNING: Quitting Smoking Now Greatly Reduces Serious Risks to Your Health. NOW THE LOWEST Of ML BRANOSp Competitive tar lev** reflects the Jan 85 FTC Report' SOFT PACK 100s FILTER, MENTHOL: 3 mg. 'W£|3 'mo, nicoim* av. per cigarette by FTC method. ~SXT- ' ;-M-

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