Letters to the Editor

Long shifts for medical staff at fault for errors

Re: Editorial, “Medical tragedies an unavoidable consequence,” Sept. 21.

It is no wonder that medical tragedies occur in hospitals when the medical personnel that staff them are regularly scheduled for 12-hour shifts. If that isn’t bad enough, it is not at all uncommon for such medical personnel to pull a double shift. Fatigue caused by long work hours can impair a physician’s judgment and competence, resulting in harmful, sometimes fatal mistakes.

The editorial indicated that everyone makes mistakes at work. A technician with 25 years of experience contributed to the mistake that cost infant Thursday Dawn Jeffries her life. I can’t help but wonder how long this technician was on duty before he made this costly mistake. While this error may have had nothing to do with the work hours of this particular technician, there is no doubt that fatigue has played a role in such errors in the past.

While most people work an eight-hour day, the demanding schedules of doctors and nurses have long been viewed as a “rite of passage” into the medical profession. Doctors and nurses are known to work long hours at the exclusion of meals, sleep and leisure.

The fatigue induced by these demands accumulates over time and leads to impaired judgment. Scientists estimate that individuals who have been awake for 17 hours experience cognitive psychomotor impairment equivalent to those with a blood alcohol level of 0.05 percent, and that figure jumps to 0.10 percent after 24 hours.

There is a need to involve the government and health authorities – such as the American Medical Association – in developing regulations to minimize fatigue-related errors. Other industries, such as airlines, have already taken action to regulate the duty hours of pilots. It is time for the medical profession to do the same. Reducing the duty hours and mandating rest periods for medical personnel is a reasonable and necessary solution that is likely to prevent costly errors for both patients and hospitals.

Michelle Wynn is a freshman majoring in mass communications.

Bush supporter mistaken in letter about Iraq war

Re: Letters to the Editor, “Anti-war letter bolsters opposing viewpoint,” Sept. 21 and “Cartoon inaccurate, cheap shot at president,” by Brian Milhoan, Sept. 25.

In Brian Milhoan’s first letter, his explanation of the Bush exit strategy begins: “continue to clean up remaining terrorists…”

First of all, such language reveals acceptance of the factually void assumption that more time spent in Iraq equates to less terrorist activity, and that at length, U.S. presence will eliminate Iraqi-based terrorism.

The facts show that terrorist threats did not exist in Iraq at the time of our invasion, while the chairman of the National Intelligence Council calls the new Iraq “a magnet for international terrorist activity.” America gave fragmented terrorist groups a common enemy, and its continued presence fuels anti-U.S. sentiments.

In Mr. Milhoan’s second letter (“Anti-war…” 9/25) he distances himself from the implications of Bush’s exit strategy by arguing he was simply stating the fact that Bush does have an exit plan.

But Bush’s exit strategy leaves America in Iraq for eternity, since withdrawal is contingent on impossibility – eradicating terrorism in Iraq through use of force. I would argue that an exit strategy with an eternal timetable could be labeled “Eternal Occupation,” justifying the cartoon in question, as well as the American political left’s assertion that Bush has produced no exit plan.

Mr. Milhoan’s facts are based on manipulation of rhetoric. Bush has no exit strategy; he has a lack of an exit strategy, which he has named “Exit Strategy.” The argument that Saddam never had weapons of mass destruction, which Mr. Milhoan takes issue with, is a non-existent argument.

It is a manipulative misconstruction of the real argument – that Saddam had no WMD when America decided to invade, and that its leaders were aware of this. Saddam’s possession of WMD in the 80s is a testament to America’s hypocrisy; America shipped them to him.

I concede that American troops did unearth uranium-depleted shells in Iraq. This is a disappointing discovery from an anti-war perspective. The use of UD shells is a breach of international law; I agree that it should not be overlooked.

Given that the shells were America’s, and that it used 320 tons of them – by the admittance of the Pentagon – on the battlefields of Kuwait and Iraq in the Gulf War, if trials for America were held today, they would come only 15 years late.

For the U.N. sub-commission’s list of the international laws America breached by using 320 tons of cancer-causing shells against Iraq, Google “use of UD shells.”

John Gilmore is a junior majoring in creative writing.

Criticism of Iraq war patriotic

Re: Letters to the Editor, “Cartoon inaccurate, cheap shot at president,” by Brian Milhoan, Sept. 21.

Brian Milhoan attempts to bolster a weak argument with ad hominem attacks on anyone in opposition to his personal mindset, dubbing those who would criticize the White House’s plans for Iraq as “illogical” or “ignorant.”

Bush has reiterated time and time again he has a plan for Iraq, and anyone who brings up a death toll, lack of progress or any of the other innumerable flaws plaguing this conflict is accused of making a “weak excuse for Bush-bashing.” From this I infer that questioning your government is unpatriotic, and furthermore, not fueled by truth or justice but really is just a dirty, self-serving partisan attack.

Several top-ranking generals – some of whom have now taken early retirement – in the U.S. army have questioned the Pentagon’s plans for Iraq. That’s right, the guys who are actually trained to conduct wars are calling Mr. Bush out on his plans for Iraq. Gen. Eric K. Shinseki claimed in 2003 that Ameirca would need several hundred thousand troops to clean up a post-war Iraq. Open a newspaper any day of the week since this war has began and see for yourself the bloodshed and violence – this so-called plan sounds like Bush did his homework on the bus before school.

In any case, it doesn’t seem to matter – the Bush administration apparently lacks the wherewithal and sophistication to erect a stable, democratic country out of the mess they made in Iraq. The administration is basically trying to build a birdhouse with a sledgehammer. It is conducting war on a concept, coining the catch phrase “the war on terrorism!”

I am sorry to say you can’t destroy a word with a bomb. Terrorism is still going to be hanging around after the smoke clears. In fact, with the administration’s heavy-handed tactics, I imagine that it’s gaining new and disgruntled members every day.

Joshua Knipp is a senior majoring in psychology.