February 2002 Bulletin


Write to The Editor, AAOS Bulletin, 6300 North River Road, Rosemont, Ill. 60018-4262

Minority physicians

Thank you for publishing the results of the national survey that showed that patients of minority physicians had difficulty being admitted to the hospital or being referred. This article clearly demonstrated another barrier to health care for minorities—failure of the health care system.

On the other side of the coin, I would like to share the results of two surveys done by Michael Charles, MD, of the J. Robert Gladden Society. Members of this organization of minority orthopaedic surgeons were found to have room in their practices for additional patients and the major source of their referrals was from other patients.

I agree with the authors that the one-size fits all approach will not solve the problem of health care disparities. It is a complex problem that will require a broad approach that takes into consideration many factors.

Raymond O. Pierce, Jr., MD
Indianapolis, Ind.


There is a huge difference between descriptive ethics that attempts to understand what people actually think and do and prescriptive ethics that considers what they should be and do. President Gelberman’s column in the December issue of the Bulletin suggests that this difference is being confused or the first is being collapsed into the second.

The Ethics Committee might wish to consider two definitions from contemporary moral philosophy. The good person is one who constantly strives to do right actions; note the emphasis on constantly strives. A bad person is not someone who does wrong actions, but someone who does not strive to do the right.

Medicine has traditionally been characterized as constantly striving to do right by and for its patients. This is a tradition we should strive to uphold by not sinking to the lowest common opinions or acts.

Wilton H. Bunch, MD, PhD
Professor of Ethics, Samford University

Birmingham, Ala.

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