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Everybody's Column

Malpractice system is in need of reform

Here we go again. Every few years the president of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association graces The News with a self-serving defense of the current medical malpractice system.

In the latest offering, the author asserts that 98,000 people die in hospitals every year due to medical errors, and that the existing medical liability system is "an established incentive for improvement." Logic dictates that both statements cannot be true. More than likely, neither is.

The 98,000 deaths figure appears in an Institute of Medicine report. It is a worst-case estimate taken from a review of 30,000 hospitalizations that occurred in 1984. To reach this number, one must assume that the quarter-century-old study applies to 33.6 million annual hospital admissions today. Much has been done to improve patient safety over the intervening years.

The same report devotes an entire chapter to the negative influence of the present medical malpractice system on patient safety, and issues recommendations for change. It is interesting that trial lawyers and the politicians who work for them never seem to mention this.

Read the Institute of Medicine report for yourself at http://www.nap.edu/books/0309068371/html/.

Bruce Small, M.D.

Clarence

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Government excels at the art of illusion

Does the U.S. government keep two sets of books? The answer is a very disturbing, yes!

The U.S. government would have us believe our total national debt is $11 trillion. But that is not the case. The government has mastered the magician's art of illusion. Namely, it has found a way to cover up 85 percent of the nation's actual debt. The truth is that the U.S. government is another $60 trillion in the hole. You see, it doesn't classify unfunded future responsibilities such as Social Security, Medicare and other contractual obligations as "public debt."

To pay back this debt at $1 million per day would take 191,780 years. And that's just what we as Americans owe today. This debt has put the United States in an extremely perilous situation, especially right now with the global economic recession.

As a result of the massive financial obligation, every American child is born into debt, owing nearly $250,000.

Kevin L. Mahoney

Glenwood

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Senate should approve e-waste recycling bill

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has identified electronic waste as the fastest-growing component of the solid waste stream. E-waste typically contains toxic and potentially hazardous constituents. Manufacturers do not pay for the cost to safely manage electronic products at the end of their useful life. Instead, the responsibility and costs for proper recycling for e-waste have been borne by local recycling programs, and by extension, taxpayers.

It is time for manufacturers to take responsibility for the disposal of electronic products at the end of their useful life. In June, the State Assembly passed an e-waste recycling bill (A.9049) that promotes better product stewardship. The State Senate needs to follow suit and adopt an identical bill, S.6047, when it returns for a special legislative session this fall. Similar legislation has been passed in 18 states, as well as New York City, and it would be a big step in the right direction for all New Yorkers who care about recycling and the environment.

Shifting primary responsibility for e-waste management from local recycling programs to manufacturers is a critical first step to advancing true product stewardship. As a result, manufacturers would have incentives to design more sustainable products that are less toxic and easier to recycle, while creating green jobs as part of e-waste take-back programs -- all at no costs to local taxpayers.

Dianne Woske

President, New York State Association for Reduction, Reuse and Recycling

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Father is already a hero for donating son's organs

Amilcar Hill is quoted as saying he wishes that someday he could do something as heroic as the bystanders who pulled his family from the wreckage of last Thursday's horrific car accident.

He already has; he has donated his son's organs. Having the compassion to think of other young children while saying goodbye to his own child makes both Hill and his son Asa heroes.

Jennifer Borowicz

Orchard Park

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Why have politicians turned against citizens?

As I contemplated the niggling, remorseless cuts to my PBGC pension after receiving a legislator's explanation of why he voted to extend generous benefits and ease amnesty for illegal aliens, there was a revelation. Many of our attitudes and practices have evolved into policies that are against our own citizens and country, on a much larger scale than ever conceived during the McCarthy era.

We have government programs directing and compensating manufacturers to relocate to foreign countries. Government money was paid to Americans to buy foreign automobiles in unfair competition with our own desperate manufacturers. There are all sorts of incentives for foreign countries to dump, manipulate currencies, subsidize, supplant, etc. while we maintain passive non-interference. It appears our free trade principles are not being reciprocated.

Japan and China have gutted our vital manufacturing. What neither was able to accomplish in war we now willingly surrender in exchange for the job losses and lower incomes for our people. Their colonization has extended to the point that no one opposes foreign products being advertised on taxpayer owned public property against local manufacturers, as in Ralph Wilson Stadium.

There needs to be an investigation into what is causing this national willingness to squander our nation's wealth on foreign interests and countries while having an aversion toward the welfare of our own American citizens.

Louis L. Boehm

Orchard Park

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CIA has never inflicted extreme pain on captives

With all the hullabaloo from the Democrats and Cheney-haters about our CIA using "torture" in interrogating terrorists, why haven't any of them looked up the word torture in Webster's dictionary? This is the meaning of torture: "the infliction of severe pain." Unquote.

Waterboarding may be a bit uncomfortable, but it does not cause severe pain. Showing an electric drill or a gun, but never using either, is not extreme pain.

The honest truth is that our CIA has never inflicted extreme pain on any captive terrorist. So much for "truth in government."

George Burke

Williamsville

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