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Healthcare's poor diagnosis

January 18, 2009

Re "Recession has some hospitals on the brink," Jan. 14

Never have emergency departments been more crucial than during this economic crisis, when people are losing jobs and insurance.

Yet the American College of Emergency Physicians released a national report card on the state of emergency medicine in which California earned a D+ for its lack of support for emergency medicine and ranked last in the country in patients' access to emergency care. Policymakers at state and national levels must focus on making sure lifesaving care is available to everyone.

Dr. Ramon Johnson

Mission Viejo

The writer is a board member of the American College of Emergency Physicians.

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Though hospitals are struggling, I too struggle with this paradox: A highly invasive tummy tuck may cost up to $8,000, but a routine appendectomy costs several times that amount.

The procedures are roughly analogous, except that the one that opens the patient's belly like gutting a fish is a fraction of the cost of the one that is done through a 2-inch incision. When hospitals can crack the code on the low cost of elective surgery performed by some of the best doctors in the world for a relative bargain, perhaps they will figure out how to stay in business.

John Handy

San Luis Obispo

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