Editorial: Mired in detail (Feb 2007)
As a former NYH-Cornell student, intern, and resident, I wanted to point out that in the Libby Zion case, the house staff took the fall. Mr. Zion, a prominent and wealthy New Yorker who wrote for the New York Times, had a society internist for his family and for Libby. She came to the emergancy department in the middle of the night with a probable drug overdose, and the house staff could not get the internist to come in and see her; he stayed in bed. The house staff was relatively green, and when Libby was oversedated and died, they took the rap while the attending walked away scot-free. It was the internist who was sleepy, not the intern and first-year resident. That this became a mandated law for residency is ironic and sad, because to the adult attending responsible goes all the blame for being lazy, uncaring, and, frankly, negligent.
John N. Baldwin, MD Twain Harte, CA
It may be that I am old enough to remember and long for different times in medicine, but as I read your editorials month-to-month, I find myself saying, “Right on,” with each issue. Over the years, I have been associated with a residency program. I have found a direct correlation between the new time restriction rules and the lack of patient commitment by the residents. This, of course, has been just one of many steps that over the years has and will drive a wedge between physicians and patients. Without “commitment,” we really do become an assembly of mercenaries that is looking for an easy way to make a living.
Ray Hanson, MD via E-mail