By GEORGE ROBERTSON, M.D.Being in medicine, I am continually bombarded by rules and regulations from all sides. For an older practitioner, being able to remember the days without all those rules is a bitter pill to swallow, if I can use an old cliché. Back in my day, a doctor didn’t have to worry abut telling the family—and sometimes half the community—what was wrong with Uncle Harry. I really couldn’t believe that when going through the waiting room I heard a nurse whisper the code word to the family of a patient so that they could have access to his information and important stuff like his room number (after all, he might be part of the Mafia or have been given a new identity by the FBI).And my put-down for someone for asking about a rash or something simple at a party or social function is no longer acceptable, meaning that I could no longer say out loud above the conversations in the room that the problem with my complaining friend was probably a sexually transmitted disease. One of the big battlegrounds with the nurses has to do with medication effectiveness. Back in the day, I can’t remember anything being expired except for the fact that if you couldn’t find it on the shelf because of the thick layer of dust hiding the label, you couldn’t use it. So on my recent trip to the Philippines I was surprised to see a condiment package with an expiration date on it. Stamped across a package of sugar that I was using to sweeten my in-flight tea was a don’t-use-after-this-date notice. My question then becomes, what happens to granulated sugar after the March 10, 2011 date indicated on the hermetically sealed packet? Does it turn to salt? Does it get less sweet or possibly gain calories? Or is it like most dry chemicals and the Creator Himself, the same yesterday, today, and forever?Editor’s Note: George Robertson is a physician with Family Medical Associates, PC, in Lebanon.