The word hygiene comes from Hygeia, the Greek goddess of health (photo, below), who was the daughter of Aesculapius, the god of medicine. Since the advent of the Industrial Revolution (c.1750-1850) and the discovery of the germ theory of disease in the second half of the nineteenth century, hygiene and sanitation have been at the forefront of the struggle against illness and disease.(1)
Since the fall of the Western Roman Empire, there have been three major bubonic plague epidemics, which afflicted large segments of the population in the continuous Eurasian landmass and North Africa. Death quickly followed the trade routes of the times. The death toll is almost incomprehensible. The Plague of Justinian (6th Century A.D.), the Black Death (14th Century A.D.), and the Bubonic Plague (1665-1666, which coincided with the Great Fire of London) caused an estimated 137 million dead in a world much more sparsely populated than it is today.
As we reach Labor Day 2000, physicians and the public should wonder what has happened in the many months that have transpired since the AMA decided to form physician unions and thus aligned itself with the conglomeration of special interests of the left side of the political spectrum.
Just when you thought talking to your doctor or psychiatrist was one of the most private and confidential things you could do ... think again.(1)
In what it describes as an effort to curb handgun violence, a group called Doctors Against Handgun Injury is calling for sweeping changes in doctor-patient confidentiality that would allow doctors, including psychiatrists, to pry about their patients' gun ownership.
In the past, the medical community fought strenuously against any invasion by government or others into the confidentiality of patient records and information.
Although I agree with your editorial on unionization, I must ask why are physicians really forming unions? Why are editors of medical journals, such as the Annals of Internal Medicine (April 20, 1999), calling again for "universal coverage" and "health care as a right?" They are already anticipating the collapse of the "managed care free market system" under its own bureaucratic weight, and are hoping that the government will save us from the crisis with the single payer system.