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The News Room

National Panel Makes Recommendations to Prevent Medical Diagnostic Errors

(SALT LAKE CITY)—It’s unknown how many errors are made diagnosing medical diseases and conditions each year, but research has shown that such mistakes contribute to approximately 10 percent of patient deaths and account for 6 percent to 17 percent of adverse hospital events, according to a report from the National ...

Better Maternal Diet Linked to Lower Risk of Heart Abnormalities in Babies at Birth

Population study shows lower rate of certain congenital defects in babies of better-fed moms before pregnancy A relatively healthy diet before pregnancy is linked to a lower rate of certain heart abnormalities in babies at birth, finds researchers at the University of Utah School of Medicine."The more you went up in ...

Why Do So Many Children Born With Heart Defects Have Trouble in School?

University of Utah awarded $6.4 M from NIH Bench to Bassinet initiative to research causes of neurodevelopmental disorders in children born with congenital heart defects SALT LAKE CITY -30 years ago, being born with a severe heart defect was practically a death sentence. But as advances in medicine have given rise ...

HHS Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell Discusses Health Care Reform During Visit to University of Utah Health Care

(Salt Lake City)—U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell visited University of Utah Health Care on Thursday to discuss Utah’s role as a leader in health care transformation. Representatives from other health care organizations, local government and business joined UUHC and Secretary Burwell in a roundtable discussion to talk ...

Grant Aids Dental School in Providing Care for Overlooked Population: Substance Abusers

(SALT LAKE CITY)—People with drug problems don’t often come to mind as an underserved population regarding health care. Yet, because of their substance abuse issues, they often go without essential medical services, particularly when it comes to caring for their teeth and other oral tissues. “This population is almost always ignored,” ...

Viruses Thrive In Big Families, In Sickness and In Health

Listen to two interviews about the research on The Scope Radio Study suggests that big families have viral infections for 87 percent of the year. But only half of infections cause illnessSALT LAKE CITY - The BIG LoVE (Utah Better Identification of Germs-Longitudinal Viral Epidemiology) study, led by scientists at the ...

Genetic Tug of War in the Brain Influences Behavior

WATCH VIDEO - Not every mom and dad agree on how their offspring should behave. But in genetics as in life, parenting is about knowing when your voice needs to be heard, and the best ways of doing so. Typically, compromise reigns, and one copy of each gene is inherited ...

Health Care Providers A Major Contributor to Problem of Antibiotic Overuse

SALT LAKE CITY - 10 percent of health care providers write an antibiotic prescription for nearly every patient (95 percent or more) who walks in with a cold, bronchitis or other acute respiratory infection (ARI), according to a new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-supported study published in the Annals ...

Health Care Transformation

Utah Health System Leads in Asking: What Does it Cost?

Price is one thing, but what does it actually cost to provide health care? What does a minute in an M.R.I. machine cost, or an hour in the operating room? University of Utah Health Care is among a few health systems in the country able to answer those questions, reports Gina Kolata of The New York Times. A cost data-mining project set into motion years ago by Senior Vice President of Health Sciences, Vivian Lee, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A., is attracting national attention, saving money and improving care, writes Kolata. “While costs at other academic medical centers in the area have increased an average of 2.9 percent a year over the past few years, the University of Utah’s have declined by 0.5 percent a year.”

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Could Peer Pressure Improve Care?

"A basic principle of health care is that everyone strongly favors transparency—for everyone but themselves," wrote Thomas H. Lee in the Harvard Business Review, extolling the virtues of the University of Utah's pioneering move to publish patient satisfaction scores on its Find-A-Doctor website. The U. was the first academic medical center in the U.S. to put patient reviews online, complete with comments and an accessible five-star ranking system. Doctors were justifiably nervous. But the U. was "richly rewarded for its creativity and courage," wrote Lee, M.D., Chief Medical Officer at Press Ganey Associates, the nation's leading provider of patient surveys.

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First Do Less Harm

Hospitals have been surveying discharged patients for years, asking them things like how well providers communicated or catered to their emotional needs. But it’s not clear what many do with the data, except at places like University of Utah Health Care (UUHC), writes The New York Times reporter, Gina Kolata. By posting its physician reviews online, UUHC made it clear that each patient visit was “a high-stakes interaction.” Doctors responded by being the kind of doctor their patients wanted them to be, and patient satisfaction scores soared.

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Since 2012, Algorithms for Innovation has been asking questions and searching for solutions to some of the most impossible problems facing health care today. We believe there's an unprecedented opportunity to invent a new vision for health care, and academic medicine is poised to lead the way. Algorithms for Innovation is designed to spark conversations, highlight best practices, and foster collaboration to help transform the future.

Vivian Lee

Vivian S. Lee
M.D., Ph.D., MBA

Senior VP for Health Sciences
Dean, School of Medicine
CEO, University of Utah Health Care
@vivianleemd +Vivian Lee



Bending the Cost Curve

Price is one thing, but how much does it actually cost to deliver health care? The University of Utah is among a handful of health systems able to track its costs, right down to the supplies used during surgery. The information is being used to improve care and bend the cost curve.

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An Ode to the Class of 2019: Our Future, Our Greatest Hope

At the start of Autumn, medical students participate in a rite of passage known as the “white coat” ceremony. This year 122 students ceremoniously donned their white coats, embarking on one of the most remarkable transformations in higher education—the transformation from “pre-med” to “doctor.”

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The Exceptional Huntsman Cancer Institute

This month, the Huntsman Cancer Institute achieved a significant milestone—the designation of Comprehensive Cancer Center by the National Cancer Institute, joining an elite group of just over 40 cancer centers across the nation with this award. This designation reflects on the remarkable success the Huntsman Cancer Institute has had in catalyzing collaboration across the health sciences and university.

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Research Roundup

Author: Laura Shane-McWhorter, Pharm.D., Professor (Clinical) Pharmacotherapy, University of Utah
Co Author: Carrie McAdam-Marx, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Pharmacotherapy, University of Utah, Leslie Lenert, M.D., Chief Research Information Officer, Medical University of South Carolina, Marta Petersen, M.D,. Vice-chair Dermatology, University of Utah; Medical Director, Utah Telehealth Network, Sarah Woolsey, M.D., Medical Director, HealthInsight, Salt Lake City, Jeffrey M. Coursey, PA-C, Associate Instructor, Family and Preventive Medicine University of Utah, .Thomas C. Whittaker, M.D., Lead Clinician, Central City Community Health Centers, Inc., Salt Lake City, Christian Hyer, PA-C, Physician Assistant and Medical Director, Community Health Centers, Inc., Salt Lake City, Deb LaMarche, BS, Associate Director, Utah Telehealth Network, Salt Lake City, Patricia Carroll, MS, Outreach Coordinator, Utah Telehealth Network, Salt Lake City, Libbey Chuy, MS, Transformation/Telehealth Coordinator, Association for Utah Community Health, Salt Lake City
Journal: Journal of the American Pharmacists Association
Date: 09-27-2015

Diabetes patients whose disease management was overseen by a pharmacist via telemonitoring significantly lowered their A1C levels compared to those who received standard diabetes care, a study with 150 patients has shown. The researchers divided the study participants into two groups of 75 patients each. The group whose care was led by a pharmacist via telemonitoring saw an A1C decline of 2.07 percent from their baseline levels compared to a 0.66 percent baseline decrease in the standard-care group. The study lasted six months. Telemonitoring sessions were held once a day Monday through Friday and lasted five to 10 minutes. Telemonitoring patients received one of two devices for the study. They used their own glucometers to measure A1C levels as well as a digital scale provided to them to monitor their weight and blood pressure monitors that came with the telemonitoring device or were given to them. A1C and LDL levels, as well as weight and blood pressure readings, were transmitted electronically to the pharmacist, who checked to ensure they were within ranges determined to be acceptable at the outset of the study. Patients also answered several questions during each telemonitoring session, incuding whether they had taken their medication. While A1C levels in the telemonitoring group decreased significantly at the end of six months, declines in blood pressure and LDL (low density lipoprotein) cholesterol were not statistically significant between the two groups. Studies by other researchers have shown, however, that pharmacist-led care can result in lower blood pressure. Patients also received weekly diabetes care education sessions. The study showed not only that pharmacist-led diabetes care could result in better disease management but also that diabetes patients could improve their own management of the disease.

View article in Journal of the American Pharmacists Association

Chlamydia Associated with Fourfold Risk of Gastroschisis in Newborns

Author: Marcia Feldkamp, Ph.D., Research Associate Professor, Medical Genetics, Department of Pediatrics
Co Author: Elena Enioutina, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Pediatric Clinical Pharmacology, Department of Pediatrics, Lorenzo D. Botto, M.D., Professor, Pediatric Genetics, Department of Pediatrics, Sergey Krikov, M.S., Bioinformaticist, Pediatric Genetics, Department of Pediatrics, Janice L.B. Byrne, M.D., Professor, Maternal-Fetal Medicine, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Pediatrics, William M. Geisler, M.D., Professor, Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine
Journal: Journal of Perinatology, Sept. 17, 2015
Date: 09-26-2015

Positive antibody tests for chlamydia trachomatis in pregnant women were associated with almost a fourfold higher risk for gastroschisis in their newborns, a pilot study found. The study included 33 pregnant women whose prenatal ultrasounds showed their fetuses had gastroschisis (cases), a protrusion of the intestine, and sometimes other organs, through a hole in the abdominal wall, and a group of 66 pregnant women (controls) whose ultrasounds showed no fetal abnormalities. Evidence of a recent chlamydia infection in the mothers-to-be was confirmed by blood tests. The researchers also found that cases were significantly more likely to be younger than controls, less educated, smoke cigarettes, report having a previous sexually transmitted disease and, among those who’d been pregnant before, report a different sexual partner with their current pregnancy. Cases also reported a lower median age when they became sexually active and a greater number of sexual partners than controls, putting them at greater risk for getting a sexually transmitted disease.  Chlamydia is the most common sexually transmitted disease. It can cause infertility and is becoming a public health issue as its occurrence increases. This study was the first step to better understanding the relationship between chlamydia infections and gastroschisis. Future research will investigate chlamydia-related inflammation. 

View article in Journal of Perinatology, Sept. 17, 2015

Rotator Cuff Tear? For Some People It's in the Genes

Author: Robert Z. Tashjian, M.D., Associate Professor, Department of Orthopaedics
Co Author: Craig C. Teerlink, Ph.D., Research Assistant Professor, Department of Internal Medicine, Lisa Cannon-Albright, Ph.D., Department of Internal Medicine, Professor and Chief, Division of Genetic Epidemiology, E.K. Granger, J.M. Farnham
Journal: Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery
Date: 09-15-2015

Hundreds of thousands of people experience rotator cuff tears every year, and it appears that some of them might well be able to blame the painful condition on two gene variations. In a study that looked at 311 cases of people with confirmed rotator cuff tears and 2,641 genetically matched controls without the problem, researchers identified two gene variations—SAP30BP and SASH1—that had significant associations with the condition. Called a genome-wide association study, the research examined more than 250,000 genetic variations, or SNPs, to look for any that were associated with rotator cuff tears. SAP30BP and SASH1 respectively reside on chromosomes 17 and 6, and each of the variations plays a role in apoptosis, or cell death. Prior research, including work by the authors of this study, suggested that rotator cuff tears had a genetic origin, but no specific genes had been identified until now. Rotator cuff tears have been associated with various associated factors, including trauma, overuse in sports (such as tennis), inflammation and aging. This study is the first attempt by genome-wide association to identify genetic factors influencing rotator cuff tears.

View article in Journal of Shoulder and Elbow Surgery

Sea Snail's Toxic Venom May Bring Relief to People with Chronic Neuropathic Pain

Author: J. Michael McIntosh, M.D., professor of psychiatry and research professor of biology
Co Author: Sulan Luo, Hainan University, Haikou Hainan, China, Sean Christensen, Cheryl Dowell, Melissa McIntyre, Haylie K. Romero, University of Utah
Journal: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
Date: 08-25-2015

University of Utah researchers identified a new potential pain management medication that has broad implications for the treatment of chronic neuropathic pain due to injury to the nerves, spinal cord or brain. This discovery is the result of a collaborative study of the deadly venom from predatory marine cone snails (Conus generalis) that are indigenous to the South China Sea. The findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

In a study with rats, the U researchers and colleagues at identified a peptide, GeXIVA alphaO-contoxin, found in the venom of the cone snails  appears to relieve pain without impairing motor skills, suggesting it does not cross the blood-brain barrier as most narcotic pain medications do. In addition, the analgesic effects of GeXIVA occur at much lower doses with greater than or equal effects of the opioid morphine. “This new information may lead to a new treatment for chronic and debilitating pain in millions of people around the world,” says J. Michael McIntosh, Ph.D., professor of psychiatry at the University of Utah. “We have identified a previously unrecognized peptide, GeXIVA, for the treatment of persistent pain.”

Neuropathic pain can result from damage to nerves from diabetes, degenerative disc disease, and tumors pressing on the nerves, infection, repetitive motion disorders and many other conditions. In some cases doctors cannot find an exact cause of the pain but it is constant and can be intense. There is no completely effective treatment for this type of severe incessant pain. But identifying this novel mechanism for pain management opens the door for further research and future clinical trials of medications.

The U researchers collaborated with colleagues from Hainan University, Haikou Hainan, China; the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia; Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow; Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine, Kirksville, Mo.

View article in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences

In Utah, you can truly have it all. Salt Lake City and the surrounding areas offer newcomers diverse neighborhoods, great schools, arts and entertainment, and endless possibilities for sports and recreation. A strong economy and low cost of living make Utah a perfect choice to call home.

University of Utah Health Sciences

University of Utah Health Sciences is an economic engine unlike any other in Utah. With more than 14,000 faculty and staff it is one of the state's largest employers and contributes millions of dollars in net tax revenue to Utah every year. But University of Utah Health Sciences' impact goes beyond the balance sheet. Its bottom line includes the health and well being of Utah residents in every corner of the state and from all walks of life.

University of Utah Health Sciences is the only university health care system in the state of Utah and provides patient care for the people of Utah, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, and much of Nevada. It is also the training ground for most of Utah's physicians, nurses, pharmacists, therapists, and other health care professionals.

Named as one of theTop 10 in QualityBy University Health System Consortium

Named as one of the100 Great Hospitals In AmericaBy Becker's Hospital Review

Ranked as one of theBest Performing Health Care Systemsby us news & world report

Health Sciences Received$235 Million In GrantsDuring Fiscal Year 2013