Scripps Tips- July 2007

A monthly list of story ideas for journalists

Scripps Clinic First In San Diego To Implant Cardiac Device That Combines Defibrillation and Heart Monitoring Capabilities
Scripps Clinic is participating in a landmark clinical trial – REDUCE HF – for a new heart-failure device that combines the capabilities of an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) with a new technology that continuously records pressure inside the heart and can alert physicians to potential heart-failure complications before they worsen. It features both the traditional ICD’s ability to restore normal heart rhythm following a dangerously fast heartbeat and the first-ever real-time tracking of pressure inside the heart, body temperature, patient activity and heart rate 24 hours a day. Patients implanted with a Chronicle ICD will transmit that information from home, using a standard phone line, to their physicians, who view the recorded data from a secure Web site in their office and then potentially make changes to patients’ medications or diet. The device will dramatically improve the way cardiologists manage their heart-failure patients’ conditions and give those patients the peace of mind that comes with knowing that their condition is being monitored 24 hours a day, every day. More than 5 million Americans suffer from heart failure, and 550,000 new cases are diagnosed annually. John Rogers, M.D., cardiologist and Tom Heywood, M.D., medical director, congestive heart failure at Scripps Clinic are available for interviews – Ihib Omar, the patient receiving the study heart-failure device is also available. For more information or to arrange an interview please contact Johnny Hagerman at

Scripps Mercy Gets Latest Robotic Surgery Technology
Scripps Mercy Hospital San Diego has just installed the latest robotic surgery technology available today. The da VinciĀ® Surgical System provides surgeons with enhanced dexterity, precision and control through patented instruments with a much greater range of motion than the human hand and wrist. It is also the first robotic surgical system to provide surgeons with three-dimensional, high-definition vision for improved clarity and detail of the surgical area. The newly established Minimally Invasive Robotic Surgery Program offers patients a broader range of alternatives to conventional open surgery. The most common robotic surgery is radical prostatectomy (prostate removal), but can also be used for many other types of surgery, including cardiothoracic, gynecologic, oncologic and even bariatric surgeries. The system offers patients a faster recovery, reduced pain, a shorter hospital stay and highly individualized care. To arrange an interview with Carol Salem, M.D., medical director for the Minimally Invasive Robotic Surgery Program contact Kristin Reinhardt at

Public Gaining More Access to Information on Hospital Quality Via Web; Trend Is Helping Consumers Decide Where to Receive Hospital Care
When the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services posted an online report card last month grading America’s hospitals on the quality of cardiac care, it was the latest step in a trend toward greater transparency. Increasingly, consumers can use the Web to find a wide range of clinical quality data to help them decide where to receive their health care – and experts say this trend toward consumer-driven health care will continue. Earlier this year, San Diego-based Scripps Health began posting its clinical quality scores on its public Web site (, showing how Scripps compares to statewide benchmarks. A wide range of other consumer Web tools on hospital quality have launched recently to unlock a vault of useful information. Next spring, the U.S. government will release a first-of-its-kind report on hospital patient satisfaction, providing the public with yet another online tool to compare hospitals. Just over 70% of online consumers today use the Internet to find health-related information, according to Jupiter Research. To arrange an interview with Scripps Health Chief Medical Officer A. Brent Eastman, M.D. on the trend toward consumer-driven health care, please contact Steve Carpowich at

Women Have Double the Risk of Stroke in Mid-life
A new study reports that twice as many American women are suffering strokes in middle age compared to men and the trend may be largely due to increases in heart disease and weight gain. The study in the journal _Neurology _also looked at what factors could be contributing to this increase in women having strokes such as coronary artery disease and waist circumference. The researchers found that women 45 to 54 years old were more than twice as likely as men in the same age group to have had a stroke. Each year about 700,000 people experience a new or recurrent stroke — the nation’s third-leading cause of death and a leading cause of serious, long-term disability in the United States, with about 4.7 million stroke survivors alive today. Prevention and early recognition of stroke symptoms are the key to avoiding death and disability. Neurologist Tom Chippendale, M.D., Ph.D., a stroke specialist at Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas, a certified primary stroke center, is available to comment on the study and discuss how women should interpret its findings. To schedule an interview with Dr. Chippendale, please contact Julie Lee at

Lifestyle Modifications, New Therapies Drive Decline in Cardiac Death Rate
A recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine reports that the U.S. death rate from coronary heart disease (CHD), the leading cause of death in America fell by more than 40 percent between 1980 and 2000. Roughly one-half of the decline was driven by broad reductions in cholesterol, blood pressure and smoking, while the other half stems from improvements in treatments. The findings are significant, since they underscore the vital role of simple risk reduction in a culture that tends to rely heavily on miracle drugs and new surgical techniques. Coronary heart disease is caused by atherosclerosis, the narrowing of the coronary arteries due to fatty build ups of plaque. It’s likely to produce chest pain, heart attack or both. Knowing the risk factors for CHD is crucial for prevention and early detection. Cardiologist, Matthew Lucks, M.D., of Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla, is available to comment on the study. To schedule an interview with Dr. Lucks, please contact Lisa Ohmstede at

Scripps Encinitas Extended Care Aims to Decrease Emergency Department Wait Times
Scripps Memorial Hospital Encinitas is addressing the issue of emergency room wait times and improving the quality of care with an extended care unit. The new unit expands the capacity of the 12-bed emergency department and provides a better environment for patients waiting for tests results or admission to the hospital. It is similar to an inpatient setting and allows nurses to spend more time with each patient and physicians to begin providing care before patients have been transported to their hospital room. Scripps Encinitas treats more than 32,000 patients annually in its emergency room and as North County’s population grows, the number is expected to increase 10 percent annually. To meet that need, Scripps Encinitas is planning an expansion of its 12-bed emergency room to better serve the community. For more information or to arrange an interview with a Scripps Encinitas emergency department physician, please contact Julie Lee at

Fourth of July Safety Tips
The Fourth of July is a time of national celebration and many of us living in San Diego will spend the day at the beach or a backyard barbeque. Injury prevention is key to staying safe this holiday season. Scripps Mercy Hospital physicians are available to offer tips on how to treat sunburns, sprains or jellyfish stings, as well as information on when you need to seek medical attention. For more information on this topic or to arrange an interview, please contact Kristin Reinhardt at