Sunday, March 3, 2002

By Staff
Personal injury lawyers threaten practice of medicine
To the editor:
Mr. Joe Clay Hamilton, personal injury attorney from Meridian, recently claimed in a letter to a Jackson newspaper that the physicians and hospitals were not treating patients of accidents or illnesses because of lack of money. He further stated that physicians would not see auto accident victims, that they had to go to emergency rooms for treatment.
I am a surgeon in Meridian and I can say that no one is being denied necessary medical care because of inability to pay. Mr. Hamilton simply has no concept of the amount of free time, services and materials given to our patients.
Mr. Hamilton is correct that victims of automobile accidents have to receive care in emergency rooms. The evaluation and care of these patients requires a team approach of medical specialists, nurses, therapists and equipment that cannot be duplicated outside of the hospital setting.
Of equal consideration though, is the exposure to unjustified legal actions that has become ever present in our practices. As a result we are much more cautious when, where and how we treat our patients. Some people will indeed find it more difficult to obtain access to the medical care they want.
But, Mr. Hamilton, the primary reason for this is not the money, it is the environment created by you, the personal injury attorney.
Stephen W. Tartt, M.D., F.A.C.S.
Erroneous verbiage' marks Hamilton letter
To the editor:
Several days ago attorney Joe Clay Hamilton wrote a letter to the editor of The Clarion Ledger in Jackson concerning health care, particularly for accident victims, in Meridian. He stated in this letter that "practically all doctors refuse to see anyone who was in an auto accident whether they have insurance or not." He goes on to say "emergency rooms see cases partially because federal law requires it." In addition he states that "if you don't have the money, you don't get the treatment." These are strong words in condemnation of health care in Meridian.
Several thoughts come to mind in reading this. First, I realize that either "the honorable" Mr. Hamilton is badly informed or ignorant as to the state of medical care in Meridian or he is less than honorable in reporting the situation. I shall attempt to edify him as to the truth that exists in Meridian, which will, hopefully, clear up whichever problem he seems to have.
Meridian is fortunate to have three hospitals that are primarily interested in patient care and physicians, who are in agreement with this interest, staff all three. Physicians who are specially trained in handling emergencies staff all three emergency departments.
Whether Mr. Hamilton knows this or not, emergency rooms are the appropriate spots to handle emergency victims. All the services required to diagnose and treat these emergency problems are present for emergent use. These include x-ray, hematology (blood counts, cross matching of blood, etc.,), ultrasound, CT Scanners, etc., that can be used immediately.
In addition to these technical tools each one has a staff of physicians, with all specialists represented, that are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They are on call for ALL, regardless of money or insurance. One call from an emergency room physician to a staff physician for consultation requires, by medical staff bylaws, not by federal law, that the staff physician respond immediately. There is a special unreferred call that consists of a call schedule of physicians for people who don't have a regular physician. This insures that all patients will be taken care of promptly.
All three hospitals have recently applied to become class three trauma centers, so that the smaller hospitals in East Mississippi have a place to refer accidents and other major emergencies without hassle.
I assume Mr. Hamilton wrote The Clarion Ledger in Jackson because most readers of The Meridian Star already know the medical situation in Meridian and would be unimpressed with his erroneous verbiage.
Frank H. Tucker Jr., MMD, FACS
Firefighters are not painters
To the editor:
In response to the article concerning the firefighters and Mayor Smith. Why does Mayor Smith think the firefighters should make repairs on the fire stations? Those men are being paid to be firefighters not painters. Painters probably make more money than our firefighters do. At my job the employer makes necessary repairs to the building  they certainly don't expect me to paint the walls. Why should it be any different with the city?
Brenda Carey