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Recent Newspaper & Online Columns by Kate Scannell MD

The Nobel Prize in Medicine: Fertile past, pregnant future

By Kate Scannell, MD, Contributing columnist Bay Area News Group

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.  Read More 

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

By Kate Scannell MD, Contributing columnist Bay Area News Group

"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? Read More 

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

By Kate Scannell, Contributing columnist Bay Area News Group

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. Read More