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Story on Surgery Was an Unnecessary Cut

March 15, 1986

The headline ("Washington Athlete Has Unnecessary Surgery") which appeared in the sports section was misleading and deceptive, a journalistic cheap shot at surgeons.

Equating a life-saving endeavor with frivolous, unneeded surgery does a disservice to your readers. If only one kid with appendicitis delays his care because of the headline, a terrible damage has been done.

To operate if the suspicion of appendicitis is high is correct and advisable. To wait can be dangerous. Many things can mimic appendicitis. Even though it is 1986, there is still no scan, X-ray, test or bedside hand-wringing that can make the diagnosis with 100% certainty. A bad flu can act very much like a bad appendicitis. To operate for one and be confronted by the other does not mean that the operation was "unnecessary."

You owe the player, his coach and your readership a clarification and an apology. Most of all, you owe the kid's surgeon an apology. He did what was right and was belittled for it.

LEO A. GORDON, M.D.

Los Angeles

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