Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Tired, Poor, and Huddled Masses

The outcry to ban Syrian migrants from the United States based on the possibility that one of the terrorists involved in the French attacks may (an I emphasize "may") have had a valid Syrian passport reminds me of the cries during World War II that helped restrict, if not eliminate, the acceptance of Jews attempting to escape the massacres perpetrated by Nazi Germany.  Not only was immigration  severely restricted, in part because similar fears of enemy infiltration, but Italian, German, and Japanese nationals, as well as those American citizens of the aforementioned ethnicities were interned or otherwise restricted.

German citizens were often detained as were American citizens of German descent.  Many were removed from residences in coastal areas.  A total of 11,507 Germans were interned during the war.  110,000 Japanese-Americans were interned.

Italian nationals in the United States during the war were also interned.  Classified as "enemy aliens" they were detained under the Alien and Sedition Act.  A total of 1881 were so detained, and a number of them were also relocated from coastal areas.

I am unaware of any seditious act that was proactively prevented by this relocation and internment policy.

We now have a decision to make.  Will we ban all immigrants from the ravaged countries of the Middle East as a means of protection from ISIS terrorism?  Hypothetically, If we knew that 5 terrorists were planning to enter this country disguised as Syrian refugees, should all refugees be banned?  Even if a terrorist was able to kill some Americans, should we close our borders completely?  As a matter of fact, isn't it possible that a terrorist could enter the United States as an ordinary tourist?  And, furthermore, should we remove Arab muslims from coastal and densely populated areas?

Are we a society that is now ready to close its borders to the "tired, the poor" and the "huddled masses yearning to breathe free."

The world has become a dangerous place.  ISIS must be contained and/or eliminated, and the means by which this can be brought about is unclear.  But to close our doors and enclose ourselves in a tight protective shell that thousands of innocents will be prevented from penetrating, is clearly not a solution.  It is surrender.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Questions a Doctor Should Answer

Doctors should answer a patient's questions.  Doctors should invite questions and ask patients to come prepared with questions.  If a doctor does not know the answer to a question, he should volunteer to get back with the answer.  Doctors should never minimize the importance of a question, no matter how trivial it may seem.   Doctors should understand that a patient may be upset, may not understand what is being related to him, and may need time to compute the information being provided.

Doctors should make certain that patients fully understand what has been told them.  Studies have shown that a patient's comprehension and retention of the issues discussed is unreliable - frequently forgotten and/or misunderstood.  Patients should write down (or perhaps record) what the physician is saying and review these notes with him before departing, insuring comprehensive certainty.   Even better, bring along a relative or friend.  Four ears and two brains are far better than two ears and one   brain - especially if the information is serious and complex.

Questions for the physician might include:
  1) What are the risks/benefits of the prescribed therapy?
  2)  How successful has this therapy been? Are there other forms of therapy to consider?
  3)  How common is my problem?
  4)  If an invasive procedure - what are the chances of complications or death?
  5)  How many procedures (if a procedure is to be done) have you performed?
  6)  How many patients with my problem have you treated?
  7)  What is the followup for my treatment or procedure - how often may it have to be repeated?
There may be others, specifically targeted to the medical issue at hand.  There may also be time constraints and, perhaps, another visit for questions and discussion should be scheduled.

Commendably, many physicians will have proactively covered these questions in their discussions
having anticipated the patient's appropriate concern.  But if not, one should not be afraid to ask.

Remember - as the doctor is interviewing you, you are simultaneously interviewing him.