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EVERYBODY'S COLUMN

Doctors weigh risks, benefits of treatment

As a pediatrician in private practice, I found the Dec. 27 letter, "Lower malpractice costs by eliminating mistakes," interesting. Although I agree with the writer, a lawyer, that we need to dispel medical malpractice/defensive medicine myths, I fear he is promoting several.

I would like to see the data supporting his statement, "the number one cause of unnecessary tests is that physicians and hospitals make money by ordering them." My colleagues and I make absolutely no money ordering tests -- their sole purpose is to clarify a diagnosis or treatment plan when needed. In every instance we weigh the risks and benefits to the patient, considering safety, appropriateness, timeliness and such practical considerations as availability and cost. Our patients should expect no less.

Furthermore, the writer appears to equate medical mistakes with medical malpractice, a common error that factors into both so-called defensive medicine and medical liability concerns. Malpractice involves professional negligence and deviation from practice standards as judged by peers, clearly unacceptable. Reducing the rate of preventable mistakes is an attainable and worthwhile goal, but not all mistakes involve malpractice, nor are all mistakes preventable, given human fallibility.

The art and science of medicine require judgment, education and experience, and his rather glib statement about following standards of care implies he has never, for example, witnessed a physician and patient discuss different cancer treatment protocols or whether a head CT, involving substantial brain radiation, is an appropriate test for a child with headaches.

Addressing the complex problems facing us requires not only honesty, but also spirit of cooperation and open mindedness. Posturing and defensiveness will avail us nothing.

Dolores C. Leonard, M.D.

Tonawanda Pediatrics

East Amherst

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Croce could learn a lot from Salvatore

Parking gouger/restaurateur Mark Croce could take a few lessons in generosity and customer relations from Russ Salvatore. I applaud Salvatore for putting the Bills-Patriots game on TV. I know where I will be spending my dining dollars. Hint: It won't be at a Croce-owned restaurant.

Anthony Nigro

East Aurora

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Collins and legislators have betrayed taxpayers

Anyone who does not see the forest for the trees where Chris Collins is concerned is truly intellectually blind. In all the years of following city, county, state and federal politics I cannot remember a more egotistical, manipulative, mean-spirited individual than him. His frivolous lawsuits cost the taxpayers precious dollars -- he loses more than he wins. And his audacity to publicly state that no one knows what they are doing but him is narcissistic.

Every time Collins does not get his way, he will threaten a tax increase. In the event that happens, it most probably will be to pay damages for lawsuits that he continues to lose, to fund his ridiculous Six Sigma program and to pay exorbitant raises to his "best and brightest" appointees, of which there are many. County legislators have no self-respect and have sold their souls to the devil. The county budget process proved that.

Judy Jones

Buffalo

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Buffalo needs to embrace economic diversification

A Dec. 30 News article stated that due to the aggressive growth of M&T Bank and First Niagara, Buffalo may become the "next Charlotte." As one who moved to Charlotte about 10 years ago, I think Buffalo needs to examine the negative results of Charlotte's experience as well. Charlotte is pushing hard to diversify its economic base from relying too much on banking and banking-related enterprises since it took a very bitter pill during this Great Recession, and the subsequent multiplier effect has impacted all sectors of the public and private economy.

Buffalo should welcome the growth of the financial sector headquartered there, including doing everything possible to ensure that HSBC stays, inclusive of leaving the current building, which is obsolete when compared to modern high-tech buildings found in Charlotte. Buffalo needs to reduce the costs of doing business by reducing the extent of the welfare state that drove businesses out for the last 60 years.

In my opinion, Buffalo can once again rise when the citizens force the politicians to embrace economic diversification and take the risks necessary to improve economic conditions, such as finally building another bridge to Canada and ending the 20-year debate on how to do it.

John Michalski

Gastonia, N.C.

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Retirees aren't only ones who live on a fixed income

I feel for those who are going through rough times, especially around the holidays. We all have to cut back and tighten our belts if we want to survive financially these days. But I find myself shaking my head at retirees complaining about Social Security and no cost-of-living increase. They complain they live on a fixed income and they can't get by with what they have now.

I'm sorry, was retiring a surprise to them? I'm not being insensitive, but rather a realist. I'm only 30 and I plan for retirement every paycheck. I know I can't depend on the government to support me, but then again, why should I? Social Security should be a little something extra, not your only means of living. Many of us have had our raises suspended or lost jobs. We all have to learn to live on a fixed or reduced income. Maybe it's time that retirees living on Social Security ask themselves: Why didn't I plan my retirement better?

Taryn Hess

Hamburg

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Frivolous lawsuit should be dismissed

An 11-year-old girl, responsible enough to be left out alone, is injured while playing on someone else's property, and this triggers a lawsuit. The lawsuit isn't against the girl who was on the property uninvited, but Niagara County which, I guess, was supposed to know the girl's parents didn't bother to teach her the difference between right and wrong. If I had been that girl, I would have gotten a stern, "You got what you deserved; don't ever go there again" from my parents, and they would have been right.

What kind of lesson are the adults involved in this action teaching this girl? Being responsible for your actions and respecting others' property aren't the messages. All this girl will take away from the lawsuit is that even though her injuries were the result of her doing the wrong thing, it's OK to make someone else pay the price. If the courts allow this case to be heard, I say charge her with trespassing and call the whole thing a wash.

Mary F. Carroll

Buffalo

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