Noted Surgeon Joins Scripps La Jolla to Lead Trauma Medicine

Walter Biffl, MD, will expand research, medical training

Dr. Walter  Biffl, MD, medical director at Scripps La Jolla

Walter Biffl, MD, trauma medical director at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla.

Walter Biffl, MD, will expand research, medical training

Walter Biffl, MD, a noted Scripps Clinic trauma surgeon and researcher with 20 years of trauma care experience, has been named trauma medical director at Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla.

Dr. Biffl leads an interdisciplinary team of nine surgeons, physician assistants and nurse practitioners who provide care to patients who arrive through the Barbey Family Emergency and Trauma Center. The Barbey Center along with the Conrad Prebys Emergency and Trauma Center at Scripps Mercy Hospital San Diego are among six designated centers in San Diego County’s internationally recognized trauma care system. The two Scripps facilities provide care to north coastal, central and southern San Diego County communities.

The $33 million Barbey Center, which opened in 2016, features the latest technology for treating everything from cuts and falls to major life-threatening injuries such as automobile crashes, gun shots, stab wounds and even shark attacks.

“Scripps and San Diego are fortunate to have Dr. Biffl leading our trauma care team,” said Carl Etter, Scripps Health senior vice president and regional chief executive, north. “In addition to his distinguished career as a trauma surgeon and scientist, Dr. Biffl is an experienced leader who will continue the high quality of care so many patients depend on at Scripps La Jolla, while expanding our research and medical training functions.”

Richard Walker, MD, president of Scripps Clinic Medical Group, said, “We are excited to have Dr. Biffl lead our efforts to merge trauma intensive care and surgery at Scripps Memorial La Jolla with acute care surgery, an emerging field of hospital-based care for general surgery patients, at all three of our North County hospitals, which include Scripps Green and Scripps Memorial Encinitas. Dr. Biffl’s surgical career has made him uniquely qualified to raise our trauma surgery and acute care surgery clinical, research and graduate education programs to their highest levels.”

In addition to Dr. Biffl, the trauma medical team at Scripps La Jolla includes former trauma medical directors Imad Dandan, MD, and Gary Schwendig, MD, and Gail Tominaga, MD, Fady Nasrallah, MD, and Marc Sedwitz, MD.

Dr. Biffl came to Scripps from Queen’s Medical Center in Honolulu, where he was medical director of acute care surgery. Before that, he was associate director of surgery, assistant director of patient safety and quality, and director of trauma/surgical outreach at Denver Health Medical Center; and chief of the Division of Trauma and Surgical Critical Care at Rhode Island Hospital in Providence, R.I.

Much of his research work has focused on immune system and inflammatory response to injury, the immunological effects of transfused blood and acute respiratory distress syndrome, a potentially deadly condition that occurs when fluid builds up in the lungs and prevents oxygen from getting into the blood stream.

Dr. Biffl received his undergraduate degree in psychology from Duke University and his medical degree from George Washington University School of Medicine. He completed a surgery internship and residency training at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. He also completed a trauma research fellowship sponsored by the National Institutes of Health at Denver General Hospital/University of Colorado Health Sciences Center.

His academic appointments have included professor and associate chair for research in the Department of Surgery at the University of Hawaii John A. Burns School of Medicine; professor in the Department of Surgery at the University of Colorado School of Medicine; and associate professor in the Department of Surgery at Brown Medical School in Providence.

“I am honored to be a part of the Scripps medical team and to be leading a distinguished trauma department with a long history of exceptionally high-quality care,” Dr. Biffl said. “I am looking forward to working with the entire trauma staff to expand our research and training capabilities while we continue to deliver the latest in trauma care to our patients.”

Learn more about Scripps Health, a nonprofit integrated health system in San Diego, Calif.

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Keith Darce
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