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February 27, 2002

Poverty and Responsibility for Health Care

Author Affiliations

Stephen J.LurieMD, PhD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 2002;287(8):988-989. doi:10.1001/jama.287.8.983

To the Editor: In his A Piece of My Mind article1 about "the system of no-system," Dr Ferrer describes his experiences in caring for uninsured patients.

I have read these sorts of articles by different authors at different times and over many years. They all start off with graphic and horrendous clinical cases, tell of the "bad" private physicians who abandoned their poor patients on the doorstep of the overworked emergency department physician, and discuss the totally chaotic system ("no system") that makes sure the patients do not receive adequate treatment. We readers then feel guilty, question our commitment to our professional oath, and vow to work harder to make things right. Since most every physician I know has, at one time or another, been in Ferrer's overwhelmed shoes, we all sympathize.