Letters Math | Buzz Blog
We need your help.

Newspapers and media companies nationwide are closing or suffering mass layoffs since the coronavirus impacted all of us starting in March. City Weekly's entire existence is directly tied to people getting together in groups--in clubs, restaurants, and at concerts and events--which are the industries most affected by new coronavirus regulations.

Our industry is not healthy. Yet, City Weekly has continued publishing thanks to the generosity of readers like you. Utah needs independent journalism more than ever, and we're asking for your continued support of our editorial voice. We are fighting for you and all the people and businesses hardest hit by this pandemic.

You can help by making a one-time or recurring donation on PressBackers.com, which directs you to our Galena Fund 501(c)(3) non-profit, a resource dedicated to help fund local journalism. It is never too late. It is never too little. Thank you. DONATE

Letters Math



I was particularly bugged by some mathematical sloppiness contained in one of the letters in this week's Friday Letters Round-up.

The writer states that "you have X number of doctors taking care of X number of patients which takes X amount of time" and, from this, concludes that it's best to minimize the number of patience receiving health care.---

However, given that there are x doctors and x patients, then the health-care system is operating at a one-to-one doctor/patient ratio. There's no reason to conclude, as the writer does, that the amount of time doctors spend treating patience keeps pace as x increases -- the math doesn't work out.

If we let d = the total number of doctors, p = the total number of patients, and c = the average amount of time each doctor spends doing clinical work, then the average amount of time t each patient may spend being treated may be expressed as t = dc / p

The writer is trying to say that, if c and d remain constant, t is inversely proportional to p, which is a reasonable statement.

However, he neglects to recognize that there is another variable q: the average time per patient each doctor must spend dealing with random insurance forms. Then, t = d(c - qp) / p.

Expanding the quotient, we find that t = d(c/p - q)

Then, as q approaches 0, t increases uniformly.

This shows that, by eliminating complicated insurance forms, a single-payer system would actually increase the average amount of time doctors could spend with their patients, or increase the average number of patients a doctor could see in one day.

Bottom line: Don't pick up your math tips in the letters section.