Scripps Tips - March

A monthly list of story ideas for journalists

1 in 2 Americans Forgo Colorectal Cancer Screenings: Tips can Help Lower Risk for Prevalent Form of Cancer

Despite clear evidence that colorectal cancer screenings save lives, only about half of Americans undergo their recommended screenings – costing thousands of lives every year. Colorectal cancer is the third-most common cancer diagnosed in the United States (excluding skin cancers), with an estimated 150,000 new cases diagnosed in 2008. March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month and experts at Scripps Cancer Center remind those with no family history of the disease to begin screenings at age 50. Colonoscopy is still the “gold standard” to find and remove cancerous and pre-cancerous growths, but other tests and exams are available. And people can lower their risk for developing colorectal cancer by eating healthy foods, maintaining a healthy body weight and exercising, among other behaviors. To arrange an interview with a Scripps Cancer Center physician about ways to lower the risk of developing colorectal cancer, contact Steve Carpowich at 858-678-7183, or

Hospitals Now Taking Creative New Steps to Deal With Increasingly Crowded Emergency Departments

From Cheesecake Factory-style pagers to hotel-inspired customer service, hospitals are starting to embrace more creative approaches to make their busy ERs run more smoothly. The number of ER visits continues to rise both nationally and locally, driven partly by people using ERs in place of primary care physicians because they lack insurance or can’t afford their premiums or co-pays. Hospitals are required by federal law to treat any patient who arrives in the ER in need of care, regardless of their ability to pay. As a result of rising demand, about half of U.S. hospitals report their ERs are at or over capacity – placing a premium on finding new solutions. To interview Scripps emergency physician Dr. Shawn Evans about the changing face of the hospital ER, please contact Steve Carpowich at 858-678-7183, or

Grocery Shopping Tours for Diabetes

Following a diabetes meal plan can seem challenging when you’re at the grocery store faced with hundreds of shelves full of choices, each carrying it’s own confusing food label. Fortunately, the Scripps Whittier Diabetes Institute has teamed up with Albertson’s/Sav-On Pharmacy in Spring Valley to offer tours to help people with diabetes make the best food selections. The free tours, led by a registered dietician and a diabetes peer educator, are held twice a month and are open to the public. To cover one of the tours, email Lisa Ohmstede at or call 858-626-7142.

Calories Count — March is National Nutrition Month

The medical community has been in agreement for years that fad diets just don’t work and new research published in the New England Journal of Medicine backs that theory up. When it comes to shedding pounds, calorie restriction is the most effective method for maintaining a healthy weight. Danielle Lipparelli, R.D., clinical nutrition supervisor at Scripps Mercy Hospital has tips and facts on adopting a healthy diet, from portion control to simple substitutions to make your favorite dishes healthier. For more information or to arrange an interview contact Kristin Reinhardt at (619) 686-3787 or

Searching for a New Doctor?

Your company has a new health insurance plan. Or you have recently moved to a new neighborhood. Or maybe your doctor has reached retirement age. Whatever the reason, it can sometimes seem overwhelming to find a new physician. To help patients connect face-to-face with potential health care providers, Scripps La Jolla is hosting a free physician expo on Saturday, March 14, from 9 a.m. to noon. More than 25 Scripps La Jolla physicians of various specialties will be on hand to answer questions, offer advice and help the public make informed decisions. To cover this event or to book one of the physicians as an in-studio guest, email Lisa Ohmstede at or call 858-626-7142.

X-Stop – New Technology in Back Pain and Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

The X Stop® is the first and only FDA-approved non-fusion treatment for lumbar spinal stenosis (LSS). LSS is a medical condition that is a result of the narrowing of the spinal canal and can cause severe back pain. X Stop® offers patients suffering from LSS a safe and effective alternative to laminectomies, an invasive procedure that is considered the current standard of care. Scripps Mercy Hospital neurosurgeon Sohaib Kureshi, M.D., and orthopedic spine surgeon William Tontz, Jr., M.D., will be hosting free lectures on the X Stop® procedure and the latest advances in spine surgery on Wednesday, March 11 from 6 to 7:30 p.m. and Thursday, March 26 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at Scripps Mercy Hospital in the West Auditorium on the Lower Level. To cover this event or to book Dr. Kureshi or Dr. Tontz as an in-studio guest contact Kristin Reinhardt at (619) 686-3787 or