Turn off the waiting room TV

LETTER — Posted Dec. 6, 2004

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Regarding "New TV season, old problem: Entertainment violence" (Editorial, Oct. 11): I appreciated your editorial on TV violence and its effects on children. You urged doctors to get involved by discussing the issue with parents and youngsters. A laudable idea, but will it happen, given the time constraints faced by most family physicians?

Here's a more realistic way for doctors to get involved at the local level. They can start with their own offices. I can't tell you the number of times I've walked into a doctor's waiting room and confronted a blaring idiot box. In most cases, neither patients nor staff seem to care what's playing. Car smash-ups, shootings, explosions, risqué humor -- it's all become standard fare in doctors' waiting rooms.

Patients with the quaint notion that a waiting room should be a calm, peaceful, intelligent environment try to avert their eyes from the boob tube. They make attempts at reading or conversation. But the TV inevitably dominates the room, spewing out its offensive mix of daytime sex and violence. At times I have asked other patients, "Is anyone watching this?" and gone ahead and shut off the darn thing. I tend to get looks from receptionists as if I just landed from Mars.

Hats off to the few doctors who have not succumbed to this trend and who refuse to subject their patients to this lunacy.

Mitch Mirkin, Baltimore

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2004/12/06/edlt1206.htm.

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