What Others Are Saying

December 31, 2007

There is an effort to rehabilitate the memory of Joe McCarthy, the pugnacious anti-communist who, as Wisconsin's junior U.S. senator in the 1950s, led a Red Scare crusade widely viewed in history as heavy on witch hunt and short on facts.

The latest effort is a book by conservative journalist M. Stanton Evans, Blacklisted by History.

We're all for getting history right. The argument seems to be that newly available Soviet files indicate a spying effort that would have warranted Mr. McCarthy's fear-mongering and that he even got some names right.

But did he even care whether the names were right? There seems little indication that he did. Moreover, his tactics attempted to tar left-leaners, communists and Soviet spies all with the same dirty brush.

In the McCarthy-Roy Cohn world, one was either on the anti-communist team or wearing red shirts. Mr. McCarthy contributed significantly to an atmosphere in which an accusation was enough to ruin. And he didn't seem to much care.

- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

From watching medical shows on television, one might get the idea that surgeons believe they are infallible gods.

Doctors at Rhode Island Hospital in Providence, considered that state's most prestigious, recently reinforced the stereotype. There, over the course of a year, brain surgeons three times cut into patients on the wrong side of their heads.

What makes such news more disturbing is that since 2003, the medical profession has had procedures in place to prevent such mistakes. They are part of what is called the Universal Protocol for Preventing Wrong Site, Wrong Procedure, Wrong Person Surgery. A surgeon and his operating team are supposed to go over a checklist, mark the surgery site on the patient's body and pause before starting to make sure everyone on the surgical team is on the same page.

It takes a few minutes and it can save a lot of trouble - but only if it is used.

The Joint Commission, an independent organization that accredits hospitals nationwide, gets about eight reports a month of surgeons beginning an operation in the wrong place. But because hospitals are not required to report such mistakes, the true number could be 10 times higher, the commission has said, noting that surgeons tend to resist the protocol.

- Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch

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