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The Malpractice Debate

"A Second Opinion on Malpractice" (New Business, Sept. 28) argued that tort reform would do little to lower health-care costs. The issue is highly controversial, and the comments we got reflected that. Many doctors disagreed with the article, saying malpractice costs do, in fact, influence how they practice medicine. Other readers said tort reform, which would put a limit on damage awards, would be unfair to patients injured by physician error. —Cathy Arnst

We reformed our medical-malpractice laws in Texas in 2003, and it has drastically increased access to care. It's a mistake to focus this debate so narrowly on physician practices. Reforms here have allowed hospitals to put money back into serving patients via expanded emergency rooms, stronger OB/GYN units, and upgraded patient-safety programs.

Screen name: Amy Arrant, M.D.

The "cost" of defensive medicine is often cited, never proven.

Screen name: Ben Glass

[Tort reform] sounds like one more way to keep patients from holding doctors accountable for serious malpractice offenses.

Screen name: derek

Inflated medical-malpractice premiums accrue more costs than those reflected in the bottom line. Graduating medical students are influenced to seek subspecialty training to offset the debt of medical education and malpractice premiums. Research shows that a population with more specialists than primary-care physicians has worse health outcomes than a population with adequate primary care. The math in your article is skewed.

Screen name: Chase Wilson, M.D.

As an OB/GYN, my motto is: "Perform only acts that will be uncriticizable." This makes my life safer and less stressful but may not always be what I believe is the best choice for the patient. Yes, we all pay a very large price for the status quo—except for trial lawyers.

Screen name: Steve

Puzzled by the Paradox of Saving

Regarding "Britain's New Scrooges Threaten Its Economy" (BTW, Sept. 21): To overspend is bad, but to scrimp is bad, too—for the economy. The question for people like me, who have saved and lived simply: Is there a happy medium in the midst of a financial crisis?

Ramon Cardona


Another Good Place to Get Started: The Navy

"Best Places to Launch Your Career" (In Depth, Sept. 14) included a few government agencies. But what about the military? My son is a Naval aviator, and his associates are impressive, intelligent, and have tremendous responsibility at a young age. This unique experience is a valuable way to begin a career.

John Gustavson


One statistic that should have been analyzed [in the ranking of best places to launch a career] is the number of 2008 hires who were laid off in 2009. This group has been significantly affected by the current economic downturn.

If a company is a great place to start your career, it won't push you out the door less than a year later to make room for 2009 hires and maintain its image with local universities.

Screen name: Matt

Job Creation: University Research Is Part of the Solution

"How Science Can Create Millions of New Jobs" ("The Future of Tech," Cover Story, Sept. 7) makes some important points about the decline of funding for basic research in the U.S. But it tells only part of the tale.

While corporate spending on research has declined, federally sponsored research at universities continues to provide the fuel for business growth. Witness the university research that has led to such marketplace innovations as computer graphics, nanotechnology, robotics, and heat-resistant crops.

Let's acknowledge that universities are doing their part.

Stephen Philip Johnson

Vice-President Government & Community Relations

Cornell University


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