Recent Newspaper & Online Columns by Kate Scannell MD

When Good Hips go Bad -- And the Price(s) We Pay for That

February 17, 2013

Tags: JAMA, hip replacement, health care costs, access, DePuy lawsuit, health care consumer empowerment

By Dr. Kate Scannell, Syndictaed columnist
First Published in Print: 02/17/2013

Hips. We tend not to think much about them -- until they hurt or need replacement -- even as they support our ability to walk, climb stairs, sit and dance.

With the exception of Lucille Clifton's celebratory poem, "Homage to My Hips," poetic works have largely ignored these workhorse joints in favor of hands, backs, necks -- even ankles. Hips rarely qualify as subjects of serious literary concern. In fact, entering "hip" into Amazon's book search window mostly delivers stories about American pop culture, hipsters and bunnies who hip-hop.

All this to explain why it's remarkable that hips have grabbed so many current headlines. Are we finally getting hip to hips, and all that they can teach us?

I certainly hope so.

For example, let's review two such stories which are ... well, joined at the hip, and see what we learn about money, deception, shopping hassles, and, yes -- there's more!

The first story involves an otherwise healthy, uninsured, 62-year-old grandmother seeking hip-replacement surgery for which she must pay out-of-pocket. The cost being of great concern, her dutiful granddaughter calls hospitals throughout the country, in quest of the lowest "complete bundled price" -- that is, cost inclusive of both hospital and physician fees. (more…)

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Managing pain may soon get even more difficult

February 3, 2013

Tags: pain management, hydrocodone, drug addiction

By Dr. Kate Scannell, Syndicated Columnist
First Published in Print: 02/03/2013

An elderly woman hobbled into my clinic, precariously balanced with the assist of two canes. Her face had a worn and ashen look, depleted of all vitality. The seemingly simple act of getting into a chair exhausted her.

Disabling arthritis had largely restricted her to a life lived within apartment walls, one devoid of a pain-free day over many years. I tried to contain my astonishment upon hearing she had never used an analgesic stronger than aspirin or acetaminophen. Before I could ask why, she offered matter-of-factly: "Because my doctor said it would turn me into an addict." (more…)

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