Not in the business of 'punishment'
A March 1 article in The Evening Sun concerning the Board of Physician Quality Assurance contains some misleading statistics and reflects a serious misconception of the mandate of the board.
In 1989, the board's first full year, 29 formal actions were taken. In 1990, actions increased 110 percent to 61. Eighteen months ago, we had 513 cases over one year old; today there are 191.
We are not in the business of "punishing" doctors for making mistakes. If that is what society wants, then legislation should be enacted to make medical mistakes a crime, and courts could then effect punishment. Our business is the protection of the public interest, by improving the quality of medical practice.
This we do in two general ways -- educating and motivating physicians to higher standards of practice, and excluding the uneducable by suspension or revocation of their medical licenses. Punitive action is appropriate when there is a premeditated exploitation of a medical license for personal gain -- money or sex, for example, but not for non-malicious errors in medical judgment.
A reprimand is not a mere slap on the wrist. It is a formal action which must be reported on every professional application for the rest of the doctor's career. A doctor who is reprimanded will never forget the mistake that he or she made.
Regarding our "atmosphere of secrecy": Confidentiality of our investigations is not a matter of board policy; it is required by law. Whether it is a good thing or a bad thing is a public policy question which can be decided by the legislature; the board will follow the law.
I do not deny the need for improvement in the board's functioning. We still are much too slow, and in some areas we are not as exacting as we should and could be. As in many state agencies, we are sadly underfunded and understaffed. We are trying to convince the legislature that we deserve improvement in our budget appropriation.
$ Israel H. Weiner The writer, a physician, is chairman of the state Board of Physician Quality Assurance.
Time to recycle
I was very impressed by the article "Company is recycling people, too" (Evening Sun, March 20). Those in the family in this article set a good example for others in their efforts to recycle.
In order to improve our environment, we must all become a part of our community efforts.
Amy Gephardt Baltimore
What we all want
I attended the hearing on the "Stokes Bill." This bill should be called "How to destroy a city with the stroke of a poison pen." It proved that racism comes in many colors. This was an opportunity to get back at the oppressive whites by giving to the black community what it has been denied for too many years, and what was said by lifelong residents fell on deaf ears.
Now, in order for any amendments to be accepted by the African-American Coalition of the City Council, we must place a black candidates on any future ticket if there is a vacancy. If this isn't election of black candidates by intimidation and blackmail, what is?
We were told by black speakers Tuesday night that blacks want black representatives and whites want whites. I disagree; what anyone wants is someone who is qualified to lead, understands the needs of the voters and is going to vote without bias.
Lois Munchel Baltimore
Car and country
In answer to "Buy American" (Forum, March 21): Hey, I'd love to buy an American-made car. Here's the problem. I work hard for my money. Why should I invest anywhere from $9,000 on up in something that isn't made nearly as well as a Japanese car?
I tried -- really. Before I bought my first Japanese car 10 years ago, I test drove all the American economy cars. Not one of them could come close to the performance I found in the Japanese models. I've never been sorry for my decision.
Not once in 10 years have I had to have any additional work done on my car. Tune-ups, I'm ashamed to say, were done only once or twice a year. Not bad, considering I drive 60 miles per day, five days a week, plus weekend trips and vacations.
I am sorry American car companies can't compete with workers and technology that makes a car worth my hard-earned dollars. Maybe the American cars today are better, but why switch?
I've never based my pride for this great country on the car I drive.
Sue Shade Baltimore
I attended and spoke at the City Council hearing March 19 concerning the City Council redistricting plan.
I was appalled at the behavior of Rikki Spector as chairperson. Her snide, sarcastic and arrogant behavior was displayed not only to fellow City Council members, but to a number of persons who testified. How really interested was this committee in hearing what the people thought about the plan?
This behavior is yet another example of the childishness and pettiness which grips the City Council and makes it unable to tackle the real problems facing Baltimore.
Sincere thanks to Jacqueline McLean for putting the session on track.
& Michael A. Ciuchta Baltimore