The latest Steven Soderbergh film tells a compelling story about a pandemic that spreads disease and fear around the world. The 2003 SARS epidemic demonstrates that the potential danger of such an outbreak is real, but how real is the public health response? When Hollywood takes on an actual public health concern, it is important to separate viable information from pure entertainment. After all, "nothing spreads like fear."
Silent, odor-free, invisible, and deadly: The radiation left by a dirty bomb, hazmat spill, or laboratory accident is usually difficult to detect and represents a "double danger" not only to those already on the scene of a potential mass-casualty incident but also to the EMTs and first responders seeking to save others - often at the risk of their own lives.
Thanks at least partially to the "do no harm" precept mandated in the Hippocratic Oath, the practice of medicine has for centuries been built on a firm foundation of acceptable ethics. Which is why some highly respected medical experts are now raising questions about current U.S. policies governing the proper approach to dealing with new anthrax attacks in the post-9/11 era.
A career professional who lost many co-workers, and personal friends, on that second date "that will live in infamy" recalls the horror, the pain, the suffering, and the personal anguish. Then he immediately goes back to work and offers a few cogent suggestions on the best way to "continue the fight" in honor of the many innocent victims who died on 9/11.
Until the atomic bomb came along, the Plague that devastated Europe in the Middle Ages and the Spanish Flu of 1918-1920 were the most lethal weapons of mass destruction the world had ever seen. Those same diseases, and many others, are still a major threat to the future of mankind. Today, fortunately, much more is known about them - but prevention is still the best medicine.
Hospitals and other healthcare facilities are marvelous at handling emergencies, healing the sick, and performing a host of minor and major daily miracles. But who heals the healer? In other words, what happens when the hospital itself is suffering from an explosion, an out-of-control fire, or any other type of mass-casualty incident? Today, the answer starts outside the facility with an emergency management program led and monitored by a corporate incident management team.
The "incident," "disaster," or whatever can be relatively small, but the lessons learned may be very large indeed. That sad fact of life (but sometimes death) was drummed home vividly to those participating in a two-hour UNH campus ministry social that ended several weeks later with a potentially deadly case of gastrointestinal anthrax - the first ever recorded in the United States.
Official government prose is formal, dignified, and enriched with copious quantities of federalese - accurate usually, but also bland and flavorless. Which is why the CDC is reaching out to touch citizens of the 24/7 generation through the use of blogs, tweets, Facebook and other social media that are much more likely to get their attention.
"Is the Grant a Good Fix?" "What Will It Take to Implement the Grant?" "What Are the Estimated Continuing Costs of the Project?" Those not-so-easy questions should be asked long before a grant is requested. The answers may at times be discouraging, but not nearly as discouraging as losing a grant because the questions were not asked - and answered - in advance, and in considerable detail.
Rapid advances in telemedicine and in the computerization of medical records are now the norm, but are made extremely complicated by - well, by other rapid advances in telemedicine and in the computerization of medical records. Additional breakthroughs are still possible, and highly desired. The pace of progress should perhaps be just a wee bit slower, it says here, but much better managed.