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Monday, November 17, 2008

Rant for the day

Just got done with clinicals, and am heading out for a run. At the end of the day I had a baby patient (18 mos old) for a quick little anesthetic just to remove some sutures from her face. Often little ones won't let their doctors do stuff like that without deep sedation or anesthesia, so here she was. She was attacked a few months ago by the family pit bull. The child had a depressed skull fracture that punctured into her brain, plus the injuries to her face which thankfully will heal with minimal scars. She seems fine now, but she is lucky to be alive. This story, of course, prompted a round of exclamations about how a parent could have a pit bull around a baby. There are cities in the US that now make it a felony for a minor to handle a pit bull. There are insurance companies that won't give homeowner's insurance to people with pit bulls.

Of course, pit bulls aren't bad dogs, it's the bad owners, right? That sounds like the argument for another thing we regulate (a little) in the US--guns. Which got me thinking: Why don't we have similar regulations for owning breeds of dogs like pit bulls who are known to be dangerous, especially when improperly handled and trained? I don't think pit bulls are inherantly "bad" dogs. But I don't see why we can't have a law that requires potential owners to attend a safety course, have a background check, basically some of the same things we require of people who want to own a deadly weapon. You have to have a trigger lock and a lock box if you own a gun in a home with a small child--why is it fine to have your family pit bull hanging out with your baby, when we know that small children might be harmed if they pull the dog's tail or even just start crying and startle the dog? The arguement goes round and round about how these dogs are fine if they are properly handled and trained--but we as a society do nothing to ensure that the dogs are owned and handled by people who are responsible and educated in how to handle a dog like this. It's not okay to have a lion in your house with your baby--why a pit bull?

That's what I'd do, if I was Queen of Everything.

People who don't want to regulate things like that have similar arguments against helmet laws--both for bicyclists and motorcyclists. But as a former trauma nurse, I saw the public health implications of people who don't wear helmets, or seat belts in cars. They become a burden to the taxpayer. We can be all for personal freedoms and say it's our own business if we don't want to wear a helmet when riding a bike or a motorcycle. But when you get that head injury that you don't recover from, that you end up in a nursing home on a feeding tube instead of back out working at your job and being a productive member of society--all because you wanted the "personal freedom" not to wear a $40 bike helmet--that is a public health issue. I'd better stop there, because I can really get going on helmets! If it just affects you--do what you want. When it starts becoming a burden to taxpayers (to ME), or when it involves not protecting the weakest members of our societies (the very young and the very old), that is when we need to regulate. That's my opinion.

Ok, off to run now. Lost 3 of the 4 lbs...slowly getting there. Everything is slow. This is Hell Week for the semester--lots of stuff due in the next 2 days, tests and presentations and papers. I spent the whole weekend at the library, and I'll be going back once I finish my run.

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