Recent Newspaper & Online Columns by Kate Scannell MD

Congress at the helm of health care's sinking ship

August 7, 2011

Tags: health care reform, federal deficit, Congress, health care costs, deficit reduction

By Dr. Kate Scannell, Syndicated columnist
First Published in print: 08/06/2011

THINKING OFTEN about health care, I am increasingly disheartened about the direction it's taking in this country. We seem to be sailing further away from a clear understanding about the goals of medical care, on an expensive junket with politics and commerce commanding the helm.

It feels that we are sinking a little, our ship also bogged down with the weight of the federal deficit and hefty health care costs. We anxiously hang on because it's the only ship in sight, but all of us know there aren't enough lifeboats to go around.

So the last thing our health care system needed was last week's tribal tantrums in Congress rocking the boat for political show. The harrowing rollick not only nauseated most of us passengers -- it also demonstrated that our political officers were inept and unsafe navigators of the financial crisis on which health care drifts. (more…)

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The top 10 medical stories of 2010

December 26, 2010

Tags: Top ten medical stories of 2010, top health stories of 2010, swine flu, whooping cough, synthetic life, concussions, FDA, food safety, frozen embros, Avandia, bed bugs, AIDS, health care reform, Kate Scannell

By Dr. Kate Scannell, Syndicated columnist
First Published in Print: 12/26/2010

WHILE THE past year regaled us with a wealth of medical stories, the government's health care reform legislation took center stage. Meanwhile, the swine flu virus whimpered, but a killer bacterium left us with a whooping cough. Scientists created the world's first synthetic organism inside a Petri dish, while old-world bed bugs crawled into our mattresses. A baby was born from a fertilized human egg that had been frozen for two decades, and, following yet another Salmonella epidemic traced to tainted poultry, the FDA finally cracked down on the egg industry.

The swine flu whimpered
The swine flu hogged media attention, panicked millions of people and consumed considerable public health resources. Its causative virus -- H1N1 -- spread throughout the world like a hog on ice, ultimately proving to be much less formidable than experts had predicted. In the bitter end, critics claimed that the World Health Organization (WHO) had exaggerated the danger, fanning public fears about the scarcity of antiviral medications and life-saving medical interventions. An editorial in the British Medical Journal claimed that some experts advising the WHO about the pandemic had financial ties to drug companies that manufactured antivirals and vaccines. Still, the threat of a global pandemic forced governments and health care systems to plan collaboratively for a more coordinated and efficient emergency response to the next public health crisis.

The cough that whooped California
For six decades, whooping cough -- formally known as "pertussis" -- had been rather quiet on the Western front. But in July the CDC reported that six California infants had died from the infection. (more…)

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