Thursday, April 27, 2006
It takes more than practice to make perfect
By Dr. Anthony Policastro
Nanticoke Memorial Hospital,
Medical director

There are many suggestions for people trying to choose a physician. One of those suggestions is for people to ask a physician how many times he/she has done a certain procedure. There is a perception that if someone has done something many times, then it is bound to be done correctly. There is some truth in that statement. Someone cannot consider himself/herself an expert after having done a procedure only one time. However, there are no rules as to how many times the procedure should be done for an individual to become an expert on it. That is logical. Some people learn quicker than others. Some procedures are more complicated than others. Therefore, the procedure itself takes longer to learn. For those reasons, there is no specific minimum number of times a physician should do a procedure to be considered good at it. There are some guidelines. Someone is not going to be good at doing heart surgery after one case. They may not be good at it after 10 cases. However, when they do become good at it, they do so gradually. A heart surgeon will certainly do the ninth or 10th case better than the first or second. However, it is unlikely that after 1,000 cases, case number 1,001 is going to be significantly better than case number 1,000. Thus the exact number may not mean a lot. A related issue is that some physicians may learn different ways of doing things. They may do something a little differently than most other physicians. It may cause only minor issues for the patients. However, no matter how many times they do it, the result is going to be the same. A simple example might be related to the size of the incision to do surgery. Some surgeons might use a larger incision than others. For most procedures and most patients this would not be an issue. However, if a patient wanted the smallest scar possible, this would be important for them. The surgeon would not be doing anything incorrectly. It would be a matter of preference for the patient. Another item to consider when thinking about number of procedures is related to how many times a physician should do it over and over again. Some things that we do not do for a while may leave us a little rusty. For example, when I first started in pediatrics, it was fairly common to drain the pus out of an infected ear with a needle. It helped relieve the pain immediately. It could also tell us what the actual bacteria were that caused the infection. That method has not been used in pediatrics for a number of years. For that reason, I have not had to do that procedure for about 20 years. I would not consider doing it at this point in time. However, ear, nose and throat specialists frequently perform this procedure in the OR. They do it when they put tubes in ears. They do it at other times when it is necessary. They do it well. Thus, when someone tells you to ask about the number of procedures that a physician has performed, it is important to remember that there is a lot more to it than just the simple total number.

Harley fans raise money to fight disease
The largest netting Harley-Davidson fund-raising event in the world, Ride For Life, sponsored by the Eastern Harley-Davidson Dealers Association, has begun. Motorcycle riders and non-riders alike from the eastern half of Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland and Northern Virginia are heading to their local dealer to pick up a registration packet to participate. They will start collecting donations for the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) that helps local individuals and families who are affected by neuromuscular diseases. Participants will raise money for MDA while having a chance to win a variety of incentives based on the level of money raised. For every $325 raised, they will receive one chance to win a one-of-a-kind 2006 Harley- Davidson Dyna "Street Bob" Motorcycle. Also new this year are prizes for children. Completed registration packets and donations should be returned to the local Harley-Davidson dealer by April 29. The big event for all those who raise $45 or more is the grand finale: Ride For Life XIX, on May 6 at East Penn Manufacturing near Reading, Pa., and May 7 at Dorney Park, in Allentown, Pa. Ride For Life XIX features two full days of fun and activities. On Saturday, May 6, activities at East Penn from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. include the Harley-Davidson demo fleet, live entertainment, plant tours, multiple food vendors, various special events with MDA Goodwill Ambassadors and more. On Saturday night, everyone is invited to a rider appreciation party at the Reading Sheraton from 7 p.m. to midnight. Sunday, May 7, starts off with the research thunder parade leaving East Penn for Dorney Park at 10 a.m. Then all participants can enjoy a day at Dorney Park (10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.) and an all-you-can-eat lunch buffet. Since 1988, the Eastern Harley-Davidson Dealers Association has raised over $11 million for MDA. The 37 authorized dealer members, many of whom are second and third generation owners, are one of the most charitable groups in the country, including Harley-Davidson of Seaford. For more details about Ride For Life XIX and a complete list of dealers, visit the Eastern Harley-Davidson Dealers Association web site:

CHEER Center offers Healthy Start program
The Healthy Start Program is being provided by the CHEER Community Center Fitness Center and Sand Hill Caf}. The CHEER Community Center is located on the corner of U.S. 9 and Sand Hill Road in Georgetown. Cost for the program is $35. Included are a two-month membership to the fitness center along with a half-hour personalized fitness routine created by a certified personal trainer. A breakfast buffet will be available with healthy alternatives. Free fitness and wellness seminars will be available throughout the two months. The Healthy Start Program will begin May 1, and run for two months, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. until 8 a.m. This program is available for anyone 50 years old or older. For more information, stop by the CHEER Community Center, or call 854-9500.