Charlotte Sutton, Senior Editor/Health and Politics

Charlotte Sutton

Charlotte Sutton is senior editor/health and politics, at the Tampa Bay Times. Since moving to Florida in 1986 she has covered news all over the state, including hurricanes, politics, arts and entertainment. She and her husband, a writer and teacher, live in St. Petersburg.

Phone: (727) 893-8425

Email: sutton@tampabay.com

Twitter: @SuttonTimes

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  1. How lessons from auto racing are helping with patient safety

    Medicine

    Even if you're not a fan of auto racing, a pit crew at work is a marvelous sight. Moving with practiced precision, the team changes tires, refuels, adjusts, repairs and gets the driver back on the course — in seconds.

    After a 12-hour heart transplant surgery some years ago, two British physicians relaxing in front of a break room TV saw a Formula One crew in action and had a revelation:...

  2. Cyclists and motorists are both responsible for road safety

    Health

    Our cover model today, former St. Petersburg City Council member Leslie Curran, is a living billboard for bike helmets. The 2010 cycling accident that put her in a coma for nearly two weeks would have been fatal, her doctor says, if not for her helmet.

    She's in good company. After I shared the story of my own low-speed tumble last month, a number of you wrote to tell me about spills in which you cracked your helmets — but not your skulls. ...

  3. On streets or trails, a bike helmet could save your life

    Health

    I am not the most graceful person. Sports that require contact between a ball and a club, racquet or bat are not my thing. I like to dance, but you wouldn't want to see me do it.

    Learning to ride a bike did not come easily, but I've become a pretty good cyclist. City streets, rutted trails — I have navigated all without hospitalization.

    But I always wear a helmet when I ride, well aware that I could fall over at any minute. ...

  4. 'Decoding Annie Parker' could inspire patient participation in health decisions

    Health

    In a summer movie blockbuster season filled with dragons, apes and Transformers, it should not be surprising that a film about a patient and a scientist unraveling the mysteries of hereditary breast cancer is not getting a run at your local multiplex.

    But whatever Decoding Annie Parker lacks in box office potential, it could well make up as a conversation starter.

    Parker's true story — she is now a three-time cancer survivor — is undeniably compelling, as is the story of how the "breast cancer gene'' was identified. ...

    Decoding Annie Parker stars Samantha Morton as a patient in search of answers.
  5. Shingles vaccine is pricey, but could be a wise investment

    Health

    Much as I enjoy keeping up with friends, cat videos and the wisdom of George Takei, I try not to spend too much time on Facebook. Depending on my mood, it can seem like everybody is having more fun than me, takes better pictures and makes superior restaurant choices.

    But the other day, I saw a post that spoke to me. A high school friend announced that she shelled out $224 to get a shingles vaccination at her local supermarket. She noted that her health insurance would have covered her treatment had she actually come down with this painful adult consequence of childhood chicken pox, but given that she's much closer to age 50 than 60, the vaccine is not covered....

  6. Charlotte Sutton: Health care lessons fit for the season

    Health

    This is graduation season, so advice is flying thick and fast.

    I am still benefiting from wisdom dispensed when I finished high school and was preparing for college.

    Dad's was poetic: "To thine own self be true.'' Mom's was reassuring: "You can always come home.'' My brother, then a college senior, kept it basic: "Never drink the punch at frat parties.''

    If an 18-year-old were to ask me for one piece of advice, I would go with my brother's. Terrible things can happen to young women — and men — who don't know exactly what is in their beverages....

  7. 107 miles in 2 days by bike: Could we do it?

    Health

    Ever so briefly last Saturday morning, it seemed like riding our bikes 107 miles in two days was going to be a little easier than we'd thought.

    Despite our best efforts and a GPS, we were among the last cyclists to arrive at Bok Tower in Lake Wales, the starting line of Bike MS: The Citrus Tour. This is a wonderful annual event that drew around 1,000 cyclists, and not just because it raises money ($689,311 to be exact) to fight multiple sclerosis. It's great fun and meticulously organized — with a firm rule that latecomers will be driven with their bikes to catch up with other riders at the first rest stop....

    Charlotte Sutton and Logan Mabe learned a lot while digging in and powering through Bike MS.
  8. Best hospital ratings evaluate health care, not amenities

    Health

    Not long ago, I went to visit a friend at a hospital in Georgia.

    A valet stood ready to whisk my car away. A stop at the gift shop for flowers nearly turned into a spree, they had so many wonderful tchotchkes on display. The glass atrium was full of light, soft music and chic furnishings, like a fancy spa hotel. Near the elevators stood a life-sized, cut-out image of a chef who promised to delight the palates of the most discerning patients....

  9. The colonoscopy is a valuable test that should be affordable to all

    Health

    Here's a health headline from earlier this week that's such a big deal that it bears repeating:

    Colon cancer rates among Americans 50 and older fell 30 percent between 2000 and 2010, the American Cancer Society announced on Monday. New cases are down. So are deaths, as you can see in the accompanying chart.

    This is huge. Colon cancer is the third leading cause of cancer death in the United States, but if trends continue, it could be far less of a threat in the near future....

  10. Who will be the Legislature's biggest loser?

    Blog

    Lawmakers generally don't much care for being placed on the losing side of annual end-of session lists of winners and losers. But this may be an exception:

    The state Capitol’s own “Biggest Loser” competition has begun, hosted by Senate Health Policy Committee Chair Aaron Bean (shown here bravely weighing in on Thursday) and House Health and Human Services Committee Chair Richard Corcoran....

     Sen. Aaron Bean, R-Fernandina Beach,  weighs in.
  11. Need health insurance? There's help available

    Health

    This is an election year, so it should come as no surprise that politicians in search of votes are saying all kinds of things without much regard for accuracy.

    Take, for instance, the dire warnings that Obamacare — the health insurance program for people under age 65 — is bad for Medicare, the program for seniors and the disabled.

    When Gov. Rick Scott aired an ad claiming there would be a "devastating impact'' on seniors from some cuts to private Medicare Advantage plans, he earned a "Mostly False'' rating from PolitiFact....

  12. Nobody said we have to be perfect

    Health

    It's been a month since a colleague and I pushed our desk chairs to the side and elevated our computers so we could stand while working.

    Yes, we were a little unnerved at all the news about the health hazards of sitting, more of which you'll read about in today's Personal Best. But more than that, we both were feeling achy after hours (and years) of sitting, and figured it was time for a change....

  13. Investigation shows value of timely tests, open government

    Health

    Nearly two years ago, we brought you the story of Kye Johnson, an adorable toddler with a potentially fatal genetic condition that meant constant hospitalizations, lasting physical damage, untold anxiety and enormous medical bills.

    If Kye had been given a $5 blood test at birth, his severe combined immunodeficiency disease (SCID) could have been found and treated at a fraction of the cost in suffering and dollars....

  14. Standing at desk may help with pain, burn more calories than sitting

    Health

    Ask an expert how to establish a fitness habit and chances are you'll hear something like this:

    Find an activity that fits your life, and is easy to include in your daily routine.

    That's good, but I propose taking it a step further:

    Find an activity that fits your life, and is hard NOT to include in your daily routine.

    Here's what I mean: Like many writers, editors and binge TV watchers, I do a lot of sitting. Chairs, sofas, floors, rocks, you name it, I can sit on it. Not to be immodest, but I excel at sitting....

  15. Go the distance in 2014

    Health

    A few months ago, my husband came home with an idea that I wasn't quite expecting.

    Hey! Let's ride bikes from Germany to the Czech Republic.

    Yes, that Germany and that Czech Republic. Two entirely separate nations.

    Now, you should know that although we own bikes, we don't ride great distances. Maybe 20 or 30 miles on a Sunday morning, but we don't even cross county lines, never mind national borders. Yes, I go to the gym, and I suppose if pressed (or chased) we both could run a couple of miles. Still, this two-nation bike ride seemed a bit much....