Recent Newspaper & Online Columns by Kate Scannell MD

VA scandal shows we must speak up about the deadly silences in health care

August 6, 2014

Tags: deadly silence, healthcare, VA scandal, Shuttle Columbia, medical mistakes, speak up, patient safety, veterans administration

By Dr. Kate Scannell, Syndicated clumnist
First published in print: 08/03/2014

What does "patient safety" have to do with the catastrophic 2003 explosion of the space shuttle Columbia, killing all seven of its crew members?

A lot, according to patient-safety experts. They regularly discuss the Columbia disaster as a classic case study of the potential for silence to kill -- whether in an organization like the National Aeronautical Space Administration (NASA) or a large health care system like the VA. Silence, it's been shown repeatedly, can be deadly not only when individuals don't speak up about problems risking human safety, but also when organizations silence those who do. (more…)

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Impoverished thinking about health care and poverty

May 4, 2014

Tags: poverty, healthcare, insurance, National Quality Forum, Obamacare, Affordable Care Act

By Dr. Kate Scannell, Syndicated columnist
First published in print: 05/04/2014

Two weeks ago, my friend finally saw a doctor for diagnosis and treatment of her fever and shortness of breath. Concerned she had pneumonia, I'd been prodding her for days to seek medical attention.

But she was uninsured, impoverished and unwilling to accept my help. She instead planned to "hold out" until obtaining health insurance through her state's insurance exchange program that operated in concert with the Affordable Care Act.

Although given no guarantee that her application was accepted, she expected to receive coverage by May.

Unfortunately, her illness didn't wait that long. It swiftly worsened, and she finally broke down -- almost literally -- and sought medical care.

There's not enough space in this column to contain my rage over my friend's subsequent fate and that so many other Americans have likewise suffered because they couldn't pay for basic health care.

Now, as millions of such Americans await their first opportunity to be insured under the ACA, my rage focuses on anyone standing in their way. (more…)

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