Legal Aid Goes OnThe writer is executive director of the...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

April 15, 1994

Legal Aid Goes On

The writer is executive director of the Legal Aid Bureau.

Holy Week

No local TV stations scheduled any Christian programming during Holy Week '94. This is not right. Holy Week is the most solemn and sacred week in the church year.

Baltimore probably has more Christian churches than any city of its size. In past years Christian movies and programs during Holy Week could be found on local stations.

Why not this year? Is this just another media attempt to make Christianity appear as a non-entity?

Bill Wingard Jr.

Baltimore

'This Is Getting Scary'

As the headline to your April 3 article about Dr. George Elias so aptly put it -- yes, "This is getting scary."

I have been a patient of Dr. Elias' for 14 years and have never known a more caring, dedicated doctor.

I sat through two days of hearings and came away thinking that there is not "justice for all" in our fair city. I can't understand why it is all right to smear a doctor's good name and not publish the name of the accuser.

Eleanor Key Lynn

Baltimore

I feel that the real issue here boils down to the very important problem of poor communication between physicians and their patients, and insensitivity on the part of many physicians to their patients' feelings about their bodies.

As a physician, I feel empathy both for Dr. Elias and for his patient, but I'm not in a position to render a verdict in this trial. I do hope for a just and fair resolution, though.

However, I have to protest your suggestion that all physicians are shivering and fearful about this case.

This is unfair to those of us who feel that communication during the physical examination is extremely important. There are physicians who are highly sensitive to the needs of our patients regarding issues surrounding their bodies and their sense of modesty, and in our daily practice, we take pains to respect these needs.

As a pediatrician, I try to tell my juvenile patients what I am doing during their physical exams, particularly when I am examing such "sensitive" areas as the groin or genitalia.

Unfortunately, many doctors "plan" through these exams with little-to-no sensitivity to their patient's modesty or feelings. In medical schools nationwide, little emphasis is placed on this issue when young doctors are trained in how to perform the physical examination.

These issues of modesty and uncomfortable feelings during their exam are one of the main reasons why many female patients may prefer female physicians, and I do believe that female physicians are more sensitive to these feelings than male physicians.

I do not wish to imply that Dr. Elias is an insensitive physician or a poor communicator, but I do feel that there is a real need for doctors to be more aware of the feelings of their patient, and to communicate better.

%Jacquelyn A. Jupiter, M.D.

Towson

____________

I am greatly troubled by the article about Dr. George Elias, a physician charged and convicted of battery while conducting a routine exam for melanoma.

Having had melanoma three and a half years ago, I remember having explained to me the process where the disease can metastasize. The female physician explained that this type of cancer tends to spread to the lymph nodes, the liver, the lungs and other areas of the body.

Her examination required her to touch areas of my body that under any circumstance would be considered sensitive.

There was no suggestion, however, that it was inappropriate, and I was grateful that she possessed the skills to tell me at a touch whether or not she thought that there was a possibility that the disease had already spread.

Her reassurance that everything felt okay helped relieve the tremendous anxiety I already felt, since I had just been told that the results of the biopsy had been positive for melanoma.

I am grateful that these physicians possess the skills in their touch to identify potential sites where the disease may had spread.

I am greatly saddened that this potentially life-saving procedure can be misinterpreted by a woman and later by a judge as inappropriate and criminally wrong.

While it is clear that there was a misunderstanding as to what occurred and why with regards to the touching involved in the exam, I wonder if this case would have ended up in court if the groin exam had revealed something suspicious, or whether the papers the doctor would have received from the woman would have been a letter of thanks, versus documents charging criminal battery.

Alvan H. Beall III

Columbia

Fuel Cells

Charles DiBona was way off base in stating that gasoline "makes the most sense" as an automotive fuel "for the next few decades." (Opinion * Commentary, April 5). It's simply another example of the oil industry's attempt to maintain the status quo.

In fact, Maryland and other Northeastern states will not meet federal smog standards without adopting stricter pollution controls.

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