The other day I sent my first (e-mail) Letter to the Editor to The New York Review of Books. Its form response that it received far too many letters to respond personally, plus my assessment that amount-of-humor-within seemed not a factor in determining which letters saw print, plus my calculated guess that no editor of the NYRB read my blog (or else why wouldn’t I have already been asked to contribute to it?) and disqualify my letter due to prior publication, I decided to post it here and avoid my effort being lost to posterity. Plus I’d run it by my consultant on all matters of medical policy, Dr Philth, and he said that while the issue was “complex,” he enjoyed my concluding paragraph. So here goes:
The statistic that jumped out at me from Lara Gotein’s supportive review of Kenneth M. Ludmerer’ “Let Me Heal” lamentation for the vanished mentor-trainee relationship that once linked senior medical staff and residents in teaching hospitals is that the average hospital stay for patients has declined from sixteen to five days in the last forty years. Speaking as a patient, whose interest Ludmerer (and Gotein) recognize is to be “placed… above all else,” the instruct seems to be that we have been well served by having senior docs concentrate on sharpening their clinical skills and pursuing research interests while residents were left ordering tests this research had led to, ensuring they hadn’t “miss(ed) anything,” instead of having troops of white coats poke and palpate us like we were visual aides.
Professional bonding be damned. I’d rather get my ass home.