Health Consumers Need to Ask Tough Questions

Meet the Media Panel a Success

By Barbara Ficarra, RN, BSN, MPA


L to R - Barbara Ficarra, Dr. Steve Salvatore, and Paula Rizzo

As promised, here is my follow-up post to “Meet the Media: Covering an Ailing Healthcare System in Critical Times.”

I was invited by the NY Chapter Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) to be part of the “Meet the Media:  Covering an Ailing Healthcare System in Critical Times” panel at Ketchum Public Relations.

I love New York City.  No matter what time of the day it is, the Big Apple is always buzzing.

The energy and the people that infuse the city are spectacular.

While walking to Ketchum Public Relations on 51st and 6th for “Meet the Media” panel I got caught in the rain.  The rain in NY is nothing unusual, I mean it’s been raining almost non-stop all summer long!!  Anyway…

I was honored to be part of the panel which included Dr. Steve Salvatore, WPIX Medical Correspondent, Paula Rizzo, Producer FOX News Health and Kalia Donner, author, Mary Tyler Moore Growing Up Again:  Life, Loves, and Oh Ya, Diabetes!

The audience included mostly public relations specialists.  Moderator for the evening was Amy Losack, Vice-President at Ketchum Public Relations.


L to R - Kalia Donner, Barbara Ficarra, Dr. Steve Salvatore, Paula Rizzo and Amy Losack

The panel was invited to answer the questions from the public relations professionals.

It was unanimous that all the panel members agreed that when a press release comes our way we want it to be “real,” and “accurate.”

We don’t want any fluff or hype, and we definitely don’t want to see press releases that claim a “miracle cure,” “the latest,” “new” etc.  Those get deleted faster than a tweet zips through cyberspace.

Health Consumers

Our goal in the media is to provide accurate, trustworthy, ethical, balanced and reliable information.

We want to provide you with information that can help guide you to make informed decisions about your health.

Since some news health segments may only be a few minutes long, viewers may not be getting all the information they need.   Health care consumers, this is where you need to begin questioning news that comes across your way.

Kevin Pho, MD posted a blog on August 28th at KevinMD titled:  “Are networking news shows an emerging public health threat?” He writes about journalism professor Gary Schwitzer’s quest to rigorously monitor health content of major media outlets.  Schwitzer is the “health media watchdog,” writes Pho.

Over at Schwitzer’s Health News Blog he writes:

By reviewing health news coverage every day, we are able to see big pictures of clear patterns unfolding that the casual day-to-day news consumer may miss.

Schwitzer notes that morning health news segments:

  • Unquestioningly promote new drugs and new technologies
  • Feed the “worried well” by raising unrealistic expectations of unproven technologies that may produce more harm than good
  • Fail to ask tough questions

Note to consumers

If news shows aren’t asking the tough questions; go ahead and ask your own questions.  Do your homework, do a little research.  Don’t take every news item lightly.  Be a proactive and empowered health care consumer.

Oh, today as I write this post, the weather is spectacular!

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