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Healthcare must change

September 11, 2008

Re "Cancer? Ask plenty of questions," Column, Sept. 7

Truer words have never been written than those by Steve Lopez detailing his sister's ordeal through the maze of patient care.

As a nurse, I advise anyone who is ill or injured to have an advocate alongside to get the best possible attention and treatment. Being a squeaky wheel works wonders, even today.

Myrna Fein

Stevenson Ranch

Our medical-care system requires a revolution. Reform is not enough.

Lopez tells of his struggle to avoid whole brain radiation for his sister. He obtained for her the more desirable gamma knife treatment by insisting on breaking out of the network.

But how many Americans have an ombudsman like Lopez? His story reflects the experience of almost everyone who struggles with our healthcare system. The system is tyrannical. It deprives most patients of free choice, and it places no value on the time of patients and their families.

How can Americans continue to tolerate this? We need a single-payer system. Universal healthcare is a requirement in a wealthy, civilized nation.

Finding the money to pay for it is the job of our government. We must elect representatives who are driven to learn from the mistakes of "socialized medicine" elsewhere, and who are committed to creating a better healthcare system.

John R. Benfield, MD

Los Angeles

The writer is a professor of surgery emeritus at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.

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