Other Effects of Lab Regulation

Thanks for the excellent article on regulating doctors' office labs {Policy, Sept. 18}. There has been little press coverage of this complex and important regulatory task.

Our organization, Citizens for Public Action on Blood Pressure and Cholesterol, has one specific area of concern with the proposed new rules and their impact on low-cost public screening programs -- particularly cholesterol screening. We support the urgency of achieving better regulation of all laboratories but are concerned that a vital public health tool -- screening services -- could be eliminated by the new rules. We hope that legislation will balance the need for regulation and the right to low-cost access to quality screening services. Gerald J. Wilson Executive Director Citizens for Public Action on Blood Pressure and Cholesterol Inc. Bethesda

Nervous About Shock Therapy

The only good thing about psychiatrist-in-training Keith Russell Ablow's article on shock therapy {Mental Health, Sept. 4} was the first sentence in which he admitted that "electroconvulsive therapy . . . makes me nervous." What followed was nothing less than an attempt to calm himself about a procedure that should make him nervous.

Before industry provides psychiatrists with hard-sell educational materials on shock treatment (complete with briefcases bearing little lightning-bolt symbols), I suggest we consider alternatives to electroshock, such as those suggested by the writings of Thomas Szasz and R.D. Laing. Laing's book "The Making of a Psychiatrist" suggests that something is wrong with counseling approaches if electroconvulsive therapy "works better than counseling . . . for some patients. Brian B. Quass Alexandria

Warning on Breast Cancer

Thank you for printing Nancy Wolf's open letter to the women of Washington {Letters, Aug. 28} and many thanks to Malcolm Wolf for sending it in. This has made me more aware, since I have some of the warning signs she mentioned. Because of her letter, I will check more thoroughly. Charlotte Faehn Springfield Regarding the letter by Nancy Wolf, I do not wish to take away from her suffering; the anguish in her letter shows how much she suffered, and I know her family has suffered since her death.

My letter is addressed to the one in 10 women who already has breast cancer. Don't let her letter scare you -- scare you to death. Hope is one of the most powerful weapons you have. Hope is what gives you peace of mind, so that you can enjoy every moment allotted to you, be they many or few. Fight with all your might to protect that hope and be bathed in peace of mind. Janet M. Smith Arlington

Fewer Black Doctors

The article on black hospitals {Cover, Sept. 11} incorrectly stated that "currently, 16 percent of the nation's physicians are black." The correct number is 3 percent.

The number used by the writer would indicate that blacks are overrepresented among physicians relative to their representation in the general population. The truth is just the opposite. Herbert W. Nickens, MD Vice president for Minority Health, Disease Prevention/Health Promotion Association of American Medical Colleges Washington

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