As expectations grow that many more cases of COVID-19 coronavirus may be identified in the U.S. in the coming weeks, public health officials have headlined media and congressional briefings to discuss the readiness of the nation’s health system’s to respond to a surge in affected hospital patients.
In general, there is agreement that while the U.S health system is better prepared than 20 years ago, it cannot handle a sudden surge in sick patients, largely because of insufficient staff, clinical space, medical equipment and treatments. Continue reading
Climate change and health care are two separate beats, right? Usually that’s the case.
Environmental reporters worry about endangered species and greenhouse gases. Health reporters worry about hospital and physician quality and safety and reducing costs of care.
But the two are increasingly intertwined, as my former San Diego Union-Tribune colleague and Pulitzer Prize winner David Hasemyer points out. Continue reading
Health reporters looking for another angle on covering vaccine debates should consider digging into the legal challenges public health officials face in considering quarantines and legislative measures prodding people to vaccinate their children, says Doug Levy, a former USA Today health journalist and author of the book “The Communications Golden Hour: The Essential Guide to Public Information When Every Minute Counts.”
Levy spent years in the trenches as a member of the media, and then as a communications leader for two large health systems. He thinks journalists are missing the boat if they keep focusing stories just on people’s concerns about the safety of vaccines. Continue reading
While the threat of mosquito-borne diseases in the U.S. has mostly faded since the Zika outbreak in 2016, Timothy Winegard warns that another one is probably around the corner, if history is any guide.
Winegard, a history professor at Colorado Mesa University, published an extensive history of the mosquito’s enduring and broad impact on the shape of geopolitics around the world, which demonstrates that the animal remains a threat to humanity. Continue reading
“Too much red meat can cause cancer.” It’s a depressing statement for the bacon and beef lovers out there, but it’s a part of nearly every major medical organization’s evidence-based guidelines for several years.
In fact, as I was covering the North American Menopause Society’s annual meeting last weekend, the session on lifestyle risk factors for breast cancer specifically included limiting consumption of red meat and processed meats as one of the 10 recommendations for reducing cancer risk from the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) and the World Cancer Research Fund. Continue reading
Here’s a somewhat worrisome report from the Office of Inspector General. Some two-thirds of the ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs) in the nation are supposed to be surveyed for quality and safety issues by their state health agency, according to Medicare rules. But a troubling number of states seem to be ignoring their responsibility.
Since Medicare reimburses ASCs for certain approved procedures — including some that carry higher risks for complications — federal officials have set requirements for how often and how extensively those state agencies are supposed to inspect those facilities. One could argue, and many have, that stricter standards should be put into place, but this report is just about the compliance of the ones that do exist. Continue reading