The Los Angeles County Medical Association (LACMA) has begun organizing a physicians’ union completely separate from LACMA. Meanwhile, Los Angeles county’s 800 non-resident physicians voted to affiliate with the Union of American Physicians and Dentists (UAPD). The ability to organized physicians got tougher when, in a New Jersey case, the National Labor Relations Board upheld its policy that fee-for-service physicians are not eligible to organize. Maybe LACMA as well as CMA should develop liaisons with the UAPD, since their membership does not seem to overlap and would prevent duplication of effort. Because CMA and the trial lawyers seem to support the same legislative candidates, it may be the UAPD that preserves MICRA for us. When the UAPD, an AFL-CIO affiliate, sent an official letter explaining why MICRA should be upheld, shock waves reverberated throughout the statehouse, where the majority party does not like to antagonize organized labor.
Richard Selzer, MD, winner of a National Magazine Award and a Pushcart Prize, insists that his best writing was done on patient charts. “Only there it was devoid of vanity of the author and the pomp of language.” Speaking at Kansas University Medical Center, he told his story “Whither Thou Goest,” the tale of a young woman who was persuaded to donate the organs of her brain-dead husband. “That way your husband will live on,” the doctor tells her. “He will not really have died.” Three years later instead of feeling comforted, she was baffled; if this is true, could she even call herself a widow? As a surgeon, Selzer is precise about language. “Harvest. Transplantation,” he said “are words of husbandry and the soil.” They are a far cry from the real names of surgeons’ deeds–dismemberment, evisceration. “To reap is synonymous with to harvest. Although they are synonymous, we don’t call the harvester the ‘reaper.'” Selzer began writing at the age of 40, while a surgeon at Yale. He pursued both careers until the age of 57, when he gave up the scalpel for the pen. Selzer creates his craft in longhand with a fountain pen. It has to do with surgery, the feel of implements. “Wield a scalpel, and blood is shed. Wield a pen, and ink is shed.” Selzer is readying his diary of 25 years to be published this fall–in three volumes. (His book, Down from Troy, was reviewed in Sacramento Medicine, November 1993, p 24.)
The Foothill Medical Bulletin, the Hoarse Voice of the Placer Nevada County Medical Society, reprints a Ginseng ad from the early 1900s stating that $25,000 can be made from one-half acre and the plant is easily grown throughout the U.S. and Canada. Roots and seeds for sale. Send 4¢. . . . Editor Ted comments that if the same reasons are valid today, millions can be made since the popularity of Ginseng is much greater, population has increased, and the value of the dollar has been multiplied by one hundred or more. He suggests that if you have a backyard, think about it. . . The editor of this Bulletin has never been listed nor has he signed any of his editorials, but everyone seems to know he’s that famous pulmonologist from Auburn. In this issue he tells us about silicosis and TB, to do a skin test on all patients with silicosis, warning us that the reaction is smaller in silicotics, and to treat all positive tuberculins of 5 mm or greater. Phil Matin, MD, pays tribute for the herculean task that Doctor Theodore Bacharach has done not only in editing, but also researching, writing, typing, setting, and printing the entire Bulletin. . . Hats off to my mentor who taught me bronchoscopy 30 years ago. The last time I saw Ted, he said he was cautiously retiring–he had reduced his work week to 8 days.
The Kern County Medical Society Alliance sponsored a bus trip to the Eberle Winery to Celebrate “The Doctor in Your Life” on Doctor’s Day. The Kern County Medical Society Bulletin warns us that allied health practitioners are preparing legislation to expand their scopes of practice. Optometrists want to increase the number of topical drugs they can prescribe, treat glaucoma, administer injections, and suture areas in and around the eyes. Naturopaths may take advantage of the popularity of alternative medicine to legally establish naturopathy in California. Psychologists are expected to try to pass a bill allowing them to prescribe drugs. Midwives want to eliminate the statutory requirement of physician supervision so they can perform unsupervised at-home deliveries. . . Meanwhile, physicians . . .Oh well, have a good time back on the ranch this summer. See you in the fall.