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Letters to the Editor

Letter to editorI was sitting at the kitchen table eating a bowl of soup. As we had just stopped our print edition of the San Francisco Chronicle and replaced it with the electronic one, I found myself with nothing to read. I shuffled through the pile of unrequested pieces of mail from the past week and ran across your journal (U Magazine, Winter 2014). I suspect that I’ve received other issues, but that they surely must have gone the way of their brethren, into the recyclables. I’m now sorry that those others were tossed. You have an outstanding publication. Usually, magazines of this genre start fairly interesting but quickly deteriorate into dullness for all but those named and those close to those named. Each of the articles that I read, or will soon be reading, was well-written and contained information of consequence to me as a retired doc. The photography was first rate, as was the layout. I will be on the lookout for upcoming editions and make sure that my wife knows that they not be lumped with J. Crew catalogs and Costco.com coupons in their trip to the dump.

Larry Hill, MD (RES ’69)
San Francisco, California

Thank you for publishing the lucid letter by Dr. Albert Stroberg (“In Box,” Winter 2014) regarding your article in the Fall 2013 issue, “Faith & Healing.” His letter clearly illustrates the problem Americans have concerning evidence and belief. Unfortunately, the other letters on this topic originate from minds already clouded by religious gibberish. Indoctrination of children is akin to abuse and should not be allowed in a rational society, but then again, America has never embraced rational thought. A good start for those wishing to escape ignorance would be Blind Faith: The Unholy Alliance of Religion and Medicine, by Richard P. Sloan.

John L. Moss, PhD, DDS
Santa Monica, California

I certainly enjoyed reading the article “Military Engagement” (Winter 2014, page 24). This piece describes the incredible humanitarian vision that Maddie and Ron Katz possessed and put into action by facilitating a relationship between Brooke Army Medical Center and UCLA to deliver the best reconstructive surgery to our wounded warriors. What the Katzes did in supporting and facilitating expert care to our injured military personnel is truly remarkable. However, what I found missing in the article is the mention of Dr. Timothy Miller (MD ’63, RES ’70), who served as the chief surgeon of Operation Mend and performed more than 150 reconstructive surgeries on soldiers wounded in action in Iraq and Afghanistan. Dr. Miller was the chief of the Division of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery at UCLA from 2002-2011. In recognition of his work for treating our injured servicemen and women, People magazine in 2010 named him Hero of the Year, and the U.S. Marine Corps honored him at a Barracks ceremony in Washington, D.C. Congratulations to Maddie and Ron Katz, and to Dr. Tim Miller, who led the UCLA Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery team in treating the injured heroes of our U.S. armed forces.

Ronald W. Busuttil, MD (RES ’77), PhD
Distinguished Professor and Executive Chairman,
UCLA Department of Surgery
Los Angeles, California

Letter to editor I enjoyed Shari Roan’s article, “Joint Liability” (Fall 2013, page 24), on the issues surrounding joint-replacement surgery in the U.S. Overall, I found the piece balanced and thoughtful. In discussing the financial impact of these procedures; however, the article neglects one key question: Do joint replacements have to cost as much as they do? As the physicians quoted in the article correctly state, joint replacements are remarkably effective and can be life-changing for many patients. I watched my own father transformed from a hobbling old man back to an active charter-boat captain by bilateral hip replacements. But I can’t help wonder if these now-routine procedures can’t be done at lower cost. The cost of the joint hardware itself can vary almost 10-fold, and a recent study shows that even the surgeons using the prostheses don’t know how much they cost. Equally concerning is the cost of the implantation procedure. The American healthcare system is notorious for rewarding procedural care far more than conservative measures. If we need to decrease total expenditures on joint replacements, we can do it without denying individuals needed surgery. We need to work relentlessly to reduce the costs of the procedures — for devices, hospital care and physician services. The American healthcare system — and all of us as taxpayers — can no longer afford to pay top-dollar prices for medical procedures, especially when we’re pennypinching on services that might prevent the need for them.

Victoria S. Kaprielian, MD ’85
Professor Emeritus,
Duke University School of Medicine
Durham, North Carolina


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