Duty, harm and turgidity?

Our readers weigh in on doctors' duties, the wording of the oath, the value of cutting & pasting and weight limits.

Do you want to contribute to Mailbag, a regular feature of VeloNews.com? Here’s how:

  • Keep it short. And remember that we reserve the right to edit for grammar, length and clarity.
  • Include your full name, hometown and state or nation.
  • Send it to webletters@insideinc.com.

Greater duty

Dear Editor,
I thought all your coverage of the Los Angeles road rage trial was excellent and do not understand Dr. Chen’s criticisms (Why the focus on road-rager’s profession?). At no point did I associate Dr. Thompson’s actions with any other doctor or medical professional.

So to Dr. Chen: Good doctor, as an MD I sincerely hope you understand the significance between being a medical doctor and the lay. First you are a healer and throughout history healers have been held with high esteem for their sometimes mystical and miraculous work. Dr. Thompson’s actions have fallen short of this esteem.

Second, being a doctor means you are well educated and as such we expect you to live as an example to those who have had fewer opportunities to gain the precious teachings that are part of a higher education. With his actions and behavior Dr. Thompson has failed those teachings and his mentors of the past. Third and foremost, you and Dr. Thompson took a professional oath to do no harm.

Clearly Dr. Thompson failed this oath spectacularly and did great harm to one of the most vulnerable portions of the traveling public. Dr. Chen, you have earned a position and title which garners you favor and respect before you even enter the room. Please do this respect justice and maintain your profession equally as well as Dr. Thompson has failed it.

Robert Price, PG
Santa Barbara, California

Primum non nocere

Dear VeloNews,
It’s a small point, but Dr. Samuel Bayles’s comments on the LA Road Rage case contains a common error of fact: the phrase “First do no harm” does NOT appear in the Hippocratic Oath, which is presumably what Dr. Thompson swore when he graduated from medical school. The phrase, often rendered in Latin as primum non nocere comes from another work attributed to Hippocrates on the treatment of epidemics.

When a physician enters a home with a terminally ill patient, the physician is bound to do what he or she can to make things better, or at least not to make things worse.

With Dr. Bayles’s ethical position, I have no disagreement, except the we are ALL morally bound to avoid wantonly harming others; whether we are physicians, cyclists, motorists, or just plain human beings in a civilized society.

Stephen Greenberg, MSLS, PhD
Bethesda, Maryland

Dear Stephen, We agree that many folks have bandied the phrase about. For the record, there are a number of variations of the Hippocratic Oath out there (an inevitability when the original is in Classic Greek). One quite commonly used by American Medical Schools these days was crafted by Louis Lasagna, the Dean of the Tufts Medical School, in 1964:

I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:

  • I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.
  • I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures [that] are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism.
  • I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug.
  • I will not be ashamed to say “I know not,” nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient’s recovery.
  • I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. If it is given me to save a life, all thanks. But it may also be within my power to take a life; this awesome responsibility must be faced with great humbleness and awareness of my own frailty. Above all, I must not play at God.
  • I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person’s family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick. I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.
  • I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.
  • If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help.

The Lasagna version is widely viewed as one that accepts the realities of modern medicine, eliminating the original draft’s call on doctors to work for free, its ban on surgery, as well as the edicts against abortion and euthanasia. – Editor

Cutting and pasting gems?

Dear Velo Editors;
Like Eric Adelman I have trouble ‘cutting and pasting’ from your Web site. Sometimes, just so I can check it with a dictionary/thesaurus to understand its meaning, I will need to cut and paste a turgidous word that one of a few of your great writers could have used as either grandiloquent or magniloquent.

Or sometimes I might want to cut and paste a reader’s question and an editor’s answer so I might have it on my screen should I want to compose my own letter. When I try to highlight a single word or sentence the entire page lights up. (Which they normally do for my mornings even without ‘cutting and pasting’.) Keep up your great work.

Ed Schaub
Buckhorn, New Mexico

Ed, We’re turgidous? Grandiloquent? Magniloquent? Cool!

On the cut-and-paste front, we are working with our tech guys to address the issue. It’s just another of the many growing pains we’ve had moving to a new format. Please let us know if you encounter any problems. We really are listening. – Editor

Weight issues

Dear VeloNews,
I have a two-part question about bicycle weight and the UCI weight limit. First, is It possible to build a bike below the UCI weight limit? How and where do teams add weight to bring the bicycle into compliance? Also the current weight limit seems high compared to what is technologically achievable. Are there plans to lower it?

Philip Van Peborgh
Dallas, Texas

Dear Philip, The UCI adopted the rule that “the weight of the bicycle cannot be less than 6.8 kilograms,” more than a decade ago. The rule was intended to address a valid safety issue, namely to stop the “race to the bottom” by some manufacturers to produce lighter and lighter equipment, without complete consideration of safety issues. Like many UCI rules, however, the rule takes a rather broad approach to the question and simply establishes a universal limit that applies equally to all bikes of all sizes, be they track, road, cyclocross or even downhill mountain bikes. We’ve seen perfectly reasonable bikes that weigh in at less than 10 pounds (not that we’d ride them down the backside of an hors catégorie climb).

With the development of new manufacturing techniques, that limit could certainly be dropped, but as of yet there are now plans to do so.

Some teams do add small weights to non-rotating elements of the bike, just to comply with the rule. In fact, early last year we had the pleasure of having Carlos Sastre’s Tour de France-winning bike in the Velo offices in Boulder. Mr. Sastre being a diminutive rider who uses a small frame size, his bike could easily have been well under the weight limit. But we noticed that there was some spray foam inside his seatpost, apparently holding in place some extra weight, judging by the post’s unusual heft. – Editor