Dear Dr. Gupta (Sanjay Gupta, neurosurgeon and CNN Chief Medical Correspondent), I congratulate you and CNN on covering medical issues so frequently and often in-depth. There's much too little of this in the mainstream media. I am writing to offer a suggestion: please expand your coverage to include the patients' perspective where the patients and family members are the correspondents and not just supplying sound bites. This has become an age of healthcare consumerism and we, the consumer, need a daily voice on CNN just as much as you, the physician. Can you ask CNN President John Klein if he...

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I wanted to take you behind the scenes of Patient Power and, for that matter, journalism. Talk show hosts and journalists get deluged with press releases and emails from public relations people. They always have a client that wants exposure. Typically a good news release will pitch a guest where there's a good reason to feature them. But you'd be amazed the ridiculous pitches we receive and it's obvious the author never looked at our website to see what we do. Guess what? We disregard pitches from those PR people in the future because they have proved to be "clueless"...

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This is a heady time for our small team at Patient Power. For three years now we've been producing talk shows for Patients featuring leading medical experts and inspiring patients and caregivers. Apparently Microsoft was watching. And while bigger websites like WebMD or Revolution Health have paid us no attention, we've kept producing programs day-in and day-out. The smart people at Microsoft know we now have over 500 hours of programs covering a very wide range of important medical topics. In many cases we've covered topics no one else has because it doesn't matter to us whether it would be...

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Over the Christmas-New Year's Holidays I've been watching television or listening to radio at odd times. Broadcasting's gift to me has been a run of infomercials. I've tried to watch with a critical eye. I've given up on the ones with the rows of smiling, buff, dancing exercise enthusiasts. I know our increasingly obese American population likes watching the tight bodies but makes no effort – with new gizmos or not – to exercise themselves. It's just eye candy and another way to blow money on a New Year's resolution almost no one follows for very long. But beyond the...

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My kids loaded new songs on my iPod. One of them is sung by Carrie Underwood, a winner on the American Idol television show that our family watches with enthusiasm. The song is called "Jesus Take the Wheel" and tells the story of a young mother driving home on an icy highway, her sleeping baby in the car seat in the back. Her car goes in to a skid and with seeming divine intervention she survives with no injuries and her baby remaining asleep through it all. I am not a very religious person and I am not a Christian,...

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I learned something new about smoking the other day. It may accelerate degenerative disc problems in your back. That's what a University of Utah spine expert told us is showing up in early research. This is just one more reason to stop smoking or never start. Add this to causing lung cancer, throat cancer, and heart disease…even higher risk pregnancies and birth defects. The list goes on and on.  Why would anyone smoke these days? Yet people do and the cost to them and our society is huge. Certainly we have made progress. I can remember in the 50's when...

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I am attending the 49th annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology in Atlanta. There are some impressive studies that spell good news for people with blood related cancers: conditions like follicular lymphoma, chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and multiple myeloma. There are also some worries that government may be in the way of you receiving some treatments even though they are validated by the latest studies presented here. In follicular indolent lymphoma, also referred to as NHL, a new European study shows great effectiveness in advanced cases using a powerful monoclonal antibody that packs a radiation, cancer-killing punch. According to the...

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We often talk about how not every doctor, nor every nurse, is an expert in our health concerns. Same would be true for chiropractors or naturopaths. These are usually good, well-meaning people who try to keep up on the latest information, but today it's become difficult. So basic to what I preach as "patient power" is for all of us to be smarter patients, sharper healthcare consumers. That works reasonably well in interacting with legitimate healthcare providers. But what about when the "provider" is a slick huckster, out for money only, and practicing fraud in their claims of being help...

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Sandy Kawamoto will always be thankful her husband, Jim, saved her life. It happened in their home outside Portland, Oregon at 3:30 in the morning in 1990. Sandy was up nursing their baby. Jim woke up to fix a pipe that had broken in the bathroom. It was a good thing he was up. He checked on Sandy. She was on the floor of the baby's room and not breathing. Her heart had stopped – cardiac arrest – because of an inherited condition, "long QT syndrome" that Sandy never knew she had. Jeff immediately started doing CPR and it gave...

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As many as 20 million Americans – mostly women in their 40's and 50's – have a lot on their mind as they find themselves responsible for care for an aging parent or in-law. It is very often a highly emotional time as the loved one grapples with recovery from surgery, a serious chronic condition, or even a diagnosis of a terminal condition. What makes it even tougher is that few families are prepared for this. Nobody has talked about it in advance. There are agencies that help with care at home and, if you can navigate the rules, insurance...

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January 2008
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