Residents' Long Hours Are No Game

Some kind of bonding rite-of-passage experience is a useful physical, mental, emotional and economic test for medical interns and residents {Healthtalk, Oct. 16}. But the long hours of work at reduced capacity may be compared with now-discredited fraternity hazing -- except that the well-being of the patient, not the initiate, is at stake. Nor is the paying patient a voluntary participant in this "game."

Since internships and residencies under these grueling conditions teach not dedication but lack of empathy for these vulnerable patients, better that the young doctors be taught to evaluate their condition -- no matter the hour -- and give way to a well-rested colleague when their faculties flag. Better that they be taught to ensure that they have a backup so they don't develop the grandiose delusions of indispensability that some doctors seem to suffer. Jan and Len Stoehr Arlington

More on Red Sox 'Syndrome'

The basic concept that Red Sox fans love a loser is ridiculous {Second Opinion, Oct. 16}. It is nearly impossible to describe why we are Red Sox fans and why we always will be. It is born and bred into us and is something that cannot be removed.

When John Updike says the Sox are losers, he means they are fallible. Flawed. Imperfect. Human. Not that they are worthless, as others imply. In fact, the Red Sox over history are winners -- a team that many times has won or often come close to winning.

Sox fans are considered among the most knowledgeable and fickle in the league, and that is because we hate to lose. We strive for improvement. We are nothing like a dysfunctional family, because we will always have reason to hope. Brian M. Rawdon Falls Church

In Defense of Forced Drug Treatment

In response to Richard Schottenfeld's commentary {Second Opinion, Oct. 13}: He asks what justifies forcing thousands of addicts into treatment. What indeed, except the hoped-for recovery of the addicts themselves and the substantial increase in safety of all the rest of the population, if the treatment can in fact result in recovery from the addiction?

In my 10 years of experience in the field, I have seen many come into treatment not of their own free will and leave after a prescribed period starting to deal with their disease.

Forcing a person to enter a treatment program, in lieu of some jail time or other unpleasant consequence, is not a punishment. It is rather a most enlightened approach. I don't see any ethical problem for a counselor who works with a patient entering treatment because of pressure from an employer or spouse, nor do I see one with the person who is there because of court pressure. As far as I am concerned, the addict is sick and desperately needs help but will likely delay seeking help until much more unnecessary damage and losses have occurred.

The subtitle of the commentary asked: "Is compelling addicts to seek help effective?" My answer is a resounding, absolutely. It works. Thomas B. Goddard Senior Counselor Comprehensive Addiction Treatment Services Fairfax Hospital Fairfax

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