September 3, 2004

Coronary bypass surgery.

Instapundit mentions that his grandfather died from complications of early coronary bypass surgery. My grandfather had one of the earliest bypass operations, in, I believe, 1954, and he lived another 15 years as a result. He was fortunate to live in Ann Arbor, Michigan where the surgery was being developed. I'm sorry I don't know the specific history of the development of the surgery. But I remember that my Grandpa Beatty died in 1969, and that the family always said he lived 15 more years because of the new surgery. I remember being a little kid--I would have been 3 in 1954--and seeing my mother prepare to fly to Ann Arbor to see her father, having been told "If you want to see your father alive again," you must come immediately. That said, both of my own parents died in Florida, where, I believe, inferior medical care deprived them of many years of life. In fact, I believe medical malpractice caused both of their deaths. And let me add that no lawsuits were possible. Suffice it to say, I don't cheer when arguments about "frivolous lawsuits" are bandied about. It would be pleasant to believe that there are too many medical malpractice lawsuits, as our President does, but highly disturbing to find out that there are too few. From my personal experience, I feel there are far too few. That said, I also think it is very hard to be a doctor, and mistakes are part of what happens. I am thankful good people go into medicine, even though they will go on to carry the burden of seeing their own mistakes grievously injure people. But there are also people who are not so good, who lay their hands upon human bodies every day. It is easier to whine about lawyers than to think about them.

UPDATE: Regular readers know that I voted for John Edwards in the Democratic primary. This post contains some of the reason why I respect him.

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