BLUNTING THE HATCHET

According to Melvin Konner's opinions in his elegantly sly hatchet job on Norman Cousins' inspirational book, "Head First," (Book Review, Dec. 3), the 1981 L.A. doctors' strike should have resulted in a "marked increase in pain and death." Quite the opposite occurred. It's a matter of public record that during the period when only emergency medical aid was available, the death rate dropped dramatically.

Konner also chooses to overlook the conclusions of a federal government study of American medicine released in 1984 that found only 10 to 15% of all treatments by licensed physicians are of any benefit whatsoever to patients.

With a track record like that, were I one of the "real doctors" Konner alludes to, instead of going to the office I'd stay home and read Cousins' book. My patients would be better off, I might learn something, and maybe even elevate my consciousness to the level of a "medical kibitzer."

IRA NICKERSON, TOLUCA LAKE

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