Still too many mistakes in caring for patients


There should be zero tolerance for preventable hospital errors ("Hospital error rate isn't improving," Jan. 31). Unfortunately, after nine years of alleged increased accountability, Minnesota hospitals are still making the same severe errors in patient care. The errors include performing the wrong surgical procedures, operating on incorrect body parts, severe falls and administering improper medications.

My father had a catheter improperly removed, which led to severe complications. The staff joked about "operating on my right broken femur" (it was my left broken femur) as I passed into anesthesia. My mother had a severe fall after a stroke -- at rehab. Patients are vulnerable, and malpractice claims raise medical costs for all of us.

The medical community has responded by continuing to attempt to control the problem through defensive denials. It is unfortunate that a Mayo Clinic doctor quoted in the story said that the increase in reported events was misleading because more events are reportable. The severity statistics don't lie, and every life is important.


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GOP attacks are rooted in opposition to Obama


Republicans attacked in every manner possible the credibility of fellow Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel on Thursday ("Republicans hammer Hagel at fiery confirmation hearing," Feb. 1). Hagel would be the first secretary of defense ever to hold the office after serving as an enlisted man and combat veteran twice-wounded during his tour in Vietnam.

Unfortunately, the Republicans have decided to crucify one of their own because they hate President Obama so much. And we continue to wonder why they won't reach across the aisle. Chuck Hagel will make a great secretary of defense. He understands the reality of sending our service men and women into combat.


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She can't escape blame for attack on embassy


It is interesting that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton "took the responsibility but not the blame" for the fate of a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans in Libya last year ("Clinton leaves mixed record," Feb. 1). This is what George Washington should have said as he stood next to the cherry tree with an ax in his hand.


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It's up to news media to spotlight the impact


Kudos to the Editorial Board for its excellent coverage of the state legislative hearings on climate change ("Prepare for impact of climate change," Jan. 20). This factual and powerful approach by the news media is sorely needed to build a consensus that results in action. It is unfortunate that this consensus will have to be built around the almighty pocketbook, but if that is what it takes, then so be it. Please keep such reports coming.


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Ban sales of cars that can exceed 70 mph


How absurd is it that a driver could continue merrily on her way, given the circumstances described in the Jan. 31 story, "Speeder caught 4 times, once at 112 mph, in hours"? It is absolutely unacceptable. We need a nationwide discussion of our speeding epidemic, without which our highways will remain unsafe for all Americans. Every option must be on the table. The situation demands common sense actions.

Let's start by reducing all speed limits to 50 miles per hour or less. That will certainly stop those serial speeders. Of course, we need to ban the sale of race cars to the general public. You know, those that have air scoops on the hood, spoilers on the back or racing stripes. And we need to ban the sale of any vehicle that can go over 70 mph.

Nobody (other than law enforcement) needs to drive faster than that. Those already owning such vehicles can be grandfathered in to allow continued possession.

These actions may not actually accomplish anything, but if even one life is saved, it will have been worth it.

Of course, we could just target the offenders. Three or more months in jail and the loss of a license for several years would seem reasonable to me in this case. But I suspect that darned AAA, with its deep pockets and political clout, is preventing the enactment of common sense driving laws. What a pity.


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Expand visa system and help high-tech economy


Working in the small-business information technology industry, I know that to remain on the cutting-edge of innovation we need to bring in leaders in technology to work for us, no matter what country they are from.

That's why sensible reforms to our visa system -- like those in U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar's recently introduced immigration legislation -- are so important ("Bill raises visa total for foreign workers," Jan. 29).

The bill would allow more scientists, engineers and doctors who were born in other countries but often have been educated and trained in the United States to stay here, so they can put the skills they learned in our universities and training programs to use in our businesses.

During my career, I've seen firsthand how these workers have contributed to some of our greatest ideas and products -- not only enriching our company but also advancing the high-tech economy and creating jobs right here in Minnesota.