In response to Deborah Peel's "Will violating privacy prevent mass murders?":
Peel is correct that the destruction of mental health in this country is part of the problem, that HMOs are destroying healthcare and the healthcare safety net is a great problem. Blaming individual physicians in a system where they are overwhelmed and underpaid is unwarranted. Cognitive specialists are currently massively underpaid and do not have the hours in the day or the night to care for all the patients who need their help. In a free market this would lead to higher reimbursement for cognitive specialists. Unfortunately with insurance reimbursement as a percentage of Medicare, cognitive specialists have their prices set by the government. Rather than paying well-trained physicians more money to provide excellent care, which would lead to more physicians wanting to be trained in the needed primary-care and mental-health fields, our government continues to reward ultra specialized physicians for performing ultra-high-tech procedures that have never been proven to save lives, but which do cost much more than older, lower-tech interventions.
Ultimately if we want to prevent tragedies like the one at Virginia Tech, we need to make government responsible for its failures. Having lawyers, police and judges exempt from civil lawsuits while physicians, teachers and most other professions can be suedoften frivolouslyis a substantive part of the problem. The fundamental problem we must confront to fix the system is that only when lawyers are involved do insurance companies or the courts they now control pay attention. Until the justice system becomes just, we will continue seeing senseless tragedy in our midst.
Jacques Jentel, M.D.Lombard, Ill.To submit a letter to YOUR VIEWS, click here. Please include your name, title and hometown.