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April 13, 1970

The Role of the Consumer

Author Affiliations

Fort Wayne, Ind

JAMA. 1970;212(2):323. doi:10.1001/jama.1970.03170150077027

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To the Editor.—  In "The Future of Medicine: The Role of the Consumer" (210:498, 1969), John S. Millis, PhD, fell into a logical (or semantic) trap of a type which is extremely common these days, and as a result, he made a statement which not only is in error, but which is in gross contradiction to fact.In commenting that an open-heart operation may take 14 people all day long, whereas three people can handle eight or ten herniorrhaphies between 7 AM and 3 PM, he stated, "the fact is that medicine year by year become less productive." The logical error hinges upon the fact that openheart surgery did not take 14 people all day long to do 50 years ago only because it was not done at all. Medicine is not, therefore, less productive by virtue of the 14 man-days required for an open-heart operation; it is infinitely