Physician Medical Blog

Kate Scannell, MD

Medical Writer

Recent Newspaper & Online Columns by Kate Scannell MD

The Nobel Prize in Medicine: Fertile past, pregnant future

October 19, 2010

Tags: Nobel Prize Medicine 2010, IVF, controversy, Robert Edwards, Kate Scannell, pregnant future, fertile past

By Kate Scannell, MD, Contributing columnist Bay Area News Group
PUBLISHED IN PRINT 10/16/2010

ROBERT EDWARDS thought he was "doing God's work" when he began his research in the 1950s. But critics charged that he was actually trying to play the boss himself.

Still, this British biologist dreamed about helping infertile couples who dreamed about having children. If successful conception wasn't possible for those couples "in vivo," he would strive to make conception happen outside their bodies "in vitro" -- with the help of science to coax that process along. (more…)

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The Big 'C'-- the cost of health care

October 8, 2010

Tags: Big C, cost of health care, rationining, insurance coverage decisions, Scannell, health insurance

By Kate Scannell MD, Contributing columnist Bay Area News Group
PUBLISHED IN PRINT 10/04/10

"THE BIG C." It's always been difficult for doctors, hospital administrators and health care executives to "spell it out." It terrifies American politicians. Patients tend to confront it only when it afflicts them or their loved ones. Everyone is so afraid of discussing the Big C, that we prefer to remain silent all the while it eats like a cancer through our national economy and health care infrastructure.

I am referring to health care "Cost." Today I'm writing about a new study that raises the specter of the Big C in a manner we can ill-afford to ignore. It also forces this question: When we pay for health care, just what are we buying -- with our pocketbooks, our downward salary adjustments for increasingly expensive insurance benefits, and our taxes funding government-sponsored health programs like Medicare? When does a costly new drug or medical device become worthy of its expense to us? (more…)

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California's whooping cough epidemic -- a (really) scary story

October 4, 2010

Tags: whooping cough, pertussis, epidemic, California, Scannell, medical school, public health

By Kate Scannell, Contributing columnist Bay Area News Group
PUBLISHED IN PRINT 07/11/2010

MY NEPHEW is a self-proclaimed connoisseur of scary movies. Over time, he has refined his tastes, and he is no longer interested in the "boring" films that lamely depend upon rivers of blood, high-octave screaming, high-octane lethal pursuits, and passe props like hatchets, knives, and guns. For him, a "quality" horror film now requires potent doses of supernatural and psychological thrills and a smattering of aliens or interspecies creatures. Multicolored slime, however, has maintained its perpetual allure.

After delivering his critique of yet another gruesome film during a recent dinner together, he asked whether I had seen any good horror stories.

Well, yes, I thought. I had been watching the nightly news, following the wars, monitoring the Gulf Coast oil spill, reading the financial pages, and ... to top it all off, I was also a doctor.

Being a doctor can bring you up-close and personal to a variety of frightening circumstances that can make your toes curl permanently. (more…)

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Selected Works

Fiction -- Interconnected Short Stories
Torrential rains pour into Thalburg Canyon, California. Flooding ensues, and a universal human drama unfolds as the interconnected stories of the canyon residents are acted out on center stage.
Nonfiction, Physician Memoir
The author begins her medical career as a young physician caring for people who are dying with AIDS during the 1980s.
Book Reviews -- Examples
Journalist Rebecca Skloot’s new book is a gripping read that embodies all abstractions about research ethics in a compelling tale about Henrietta Lacks – a woman whose microscopic cancerous cells shook the world’s medical establishment in 1951.
Newspaper and Online Opinion and Medical Columns
Since 2000 -- Syndicated medical opinion columns about the sociopolitical and ethical dimensions of American health care.
Medical Essays
Documentary, executive producer
DVD -- Journey by Heart -- an engaging and intimate view of Alzheimer's Services of the East Bay.