Dr. Freeman's legacy [Letter]

January 21, 2014

My colleagues and I greatly appreciate your paper's obituary discussing Dr. John Freeman's illustrious career ("Dr. John Mark Freeman," Jan. 6). In the decades I worked with him, I recognized that although he was well known for his contributions relating to major brain surgery and the ketogenic diet for severe cases of epilepsy in children, he was especially proud of "Just Say No," an editorial in a 1990 medical journal addressing the care of children who experience seizures only when they have a fever.

He warned physicians of the harm that could be done by prescribing anticonvulsants too hastily. Most of these children do not need medication, he maintained, and the drug traditionally used had serious side effects. What physicians needed was time and the commitment to counseling families so that their fears could be managed and the children could be allowed to outgrow the condition and grow up without stigma. As we embark on an era in which we must be more sensitive to health-care cost control, his advice is especially true.

Dr. Eileen P.G. Vining, Baltimore

The writer is a professor of neurology and pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions.

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