Monday, December 16, 2013

Why Bolivia? Sutton's Law in Action!

When I supervise medical students or resident physicians, I always discuss with them the fundamental truth behind what we do as doctors:

There are only two reasons a patient comes to a doctor: they have pain or fear, or both.
Providing a neutral perspective for a patient's needs, this truth offers doctors a mindful way to maintain compassion and empathy even when fatigued or struggling with a difficult patient interaction.

When one steps back and considers the statement it may seem obvious. And thus it can be an example of Sutton's Law.

Willie Sutton, a famous twentieth-century American bank robber, when asked why he robbed banks, reportedly said:

"Because that's where the money is!"
The reply stated the obvious, and with that came Sutton's Law, an idea now central to medical training and referenced throughout the social sciences -- when assessing a problem, first consider the obvious, and test to confirm or rule that out before considering more esoteric and less likely diagnoses.

Thus Sutton's Law can explain why the AAVia Foundation for the Health of Bolivian Children needs your help.

Bolivia, like the banks robbed by Willie Sutton, is where the "money" is, or rather where the pain and fear for patients is abundant.

Work we support in Bolivia is to lessen the pain and fear that patients and families may have. Being the poorest country in South America means Bolivia has limited resources for medical care, so there is a lot of pain to ease and fear to settle.

Next month, the AAVia Foundation will have a team in La Paz to study the work being done there and the opportunities for Americans to help.

Please help us in this effort.

Joining us on the foundation's Facebook page means you can easily follow the exciting efforts we have planned.

And your donations will empower the foundation in its work.

Consider our trip in January as us casing the bank so we can rob Bolivian's of their pain and fear.

Willie Sutton lives -- and we are him!

--Timothy Malia, MD
Co-founder and Vice President of the AAVia Foundation for the Health of Bolivian Children
December 16, 2013