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Diabetes Language Matters

Posted on Nov 13, 2020 in Quality Care, Scroll Images, Uncategorized

Diabetes care teams across Sutter Health are talking differently these days. That’s because the effect language has on patient care and patient outcomes can be profound. Endocrinologist Melissa Weinberg, M.D., affiliated with Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation and lead physician of Sutter’s Diabetes Clinical Improvement Community (DCIC), explains that as our U.S. healthcare system moves toward a more patient-centered approach, it’s necessary for providers to reexamine their words.

“When we started looking at diabetes care through a linguistic lens, we found unintended judgmental language across chart notes, patient education handouts, and even in our conversations. Beginning this November, to recognize American Diabetes Month, our teams are working on using person-first language whenever possible,” Weinberg says.

Talking the Talk

Person-first language puts a person before their diagnosis, describing what a person “has” rather than asserting what a person “is.”

“Despite even the best intentions, words can result in patients feeling like they are their diagnosis,” says Michelle Bradley, an exercise physiologist with Palo Alto Medical Foundation, who also serves on Sutter’s DCIC and is working to promote World Diabetes Day on November 14.

Referring to a patient as ‘diabetic’ can reinforce that as their identity, i.e. “I am diabetic.” Rather, Bradley says, it would be better to say “a person with diabetes” which puts the patient first and shows compassionate and encouraging language that may help enhance their outcomes and experience.

Stigma around certain language can impact care. According to two different studies (here and here), possibly because of perceived judgment from healthcare professionals, people with diabetes sometimes altered or underreported blood glucose levels or omitted information during provider visits.

Neutral Language Helps Remove Stigma

While a language movement in healthcare isn’t a new concept, there is greater emphasis to use language that empowers and supports. Here are four examples of phrases that Sutter diabetes care teams are working to incorporate in patient communications:

  • Monitoring blood sugar/glucose” instead of “Testing blood sugar/glucose”
  • A person who…” (takes medication 3/7 days, unable to access supplies, continues to eat ice cream before bed) instead of “Non-compliant, non-adherent, unwilling”
  • Managing, Working towards…” instead of “controlled, uncontrolled, sub-optimal”
  • Use “Guidelines or Recommendations are…” instead of “You should, have to, need to, must”

“The way we speak affects the way we think and ultimately how patients feel,” says Weinberg.

More Than Their Diagnosis

Sutter Health is committed to improving healthcare outcomes for all, which includes communication with and about patients.

“When we change our language, we change the perception. Simple wording changes can go a long way in helping to build and strengthen patient relationships,” says Bradley.

Sutter Health Statement on State of the State

Posted on Feb 19, 2020 in Scroll Images, Uncategorized

Sarah Krevans, president and CEO of Sutter Health, today issued the following statement on Governor Newsom’s State of the State:

“I was honored to view Governor Newsom’s State of the State address from the Assembly gallery today, and I applaud the Governor’s commitment to making a difference in the lives of the thousands of people experiencing homelessness across our state. We see firsthand the adverse impact homelessness has on California’s vulnerable populations each day throughout our integrated network of care. Driven by our mission to improve community health, we work with public and private partners to help reduce the root causes and effects of homelessness in the communities we serve. We look forward to working with the governor and local stakeholders to build on the work we’ve done to date.”

Sutter’s Self-Prescribed Eco-Rx Shows Impact

Posted on Feb 18, 2020 in Scroll Images, Uncategorized

Organization snags 2019 SEAL Business Sustainability Award; Employees and leadership charged up to do more in 2020!

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Sutter has dialed up its sustainability efforts in recent years. The not-for-profit organization’s environmental stewardship committees have made major strides towards minimizing waste, increasing energy efficiency and creating healthier communities for patients and their families.

In 2019 alone, Sutter completed five solar power projects, launched a pilot program to reduce the amount of harmful anesthetic gasses released into the atmosphere during surgeries, and increased plant-based meals by 20 percent in its hospital cafeterias.

For strides like these—and more, Sutter received a 2019 SEAL Business Sustainability Award. SEAL –Sustainability, Environmental Achievement and Leadership – honored the organization for stepping up as one of four founding members of the California Health Care Climate Alliance. The alliance brings significant healthcare experience and a combined voice to the legislative and regulatory process to advocate for and enact climate-smart policies. Additionally, Sutter was recognized for having developed a comprehensive sustainability campaign focusing on several key initiatives, including energy conservation and greenhouse gas reduction, for which it showed results.

Sutter Health awarded 2019 SEAL Business Sustainability Award.
Sutter Health awarded a 2019 SEAL Business Sustainability Award.

“At Sutter Health, caring for our planet is integral to our mission of fostering healthier environments,” said Steve Lockhart, M.D., PhD, Sutter Health chief medical officer and executive sponsor of Sutter’s Environmental Stewardship Program.

Sutter Takes a Proactive Approach to Sustainability

As the organization looks to the decade and environmental challenges ahead, its commitment to sustainability has never been stronger. Here are three ways Sutter is continuing to address sustainability across its integrated network:

• The organization is a major supporter of MedShare, a non-profit that delivers surplus medical supplies and equipment to communities in need around the world. In the last 10 years, Sutter has contributed more than $11 million worth of lifesaving medical supplies to improve global health and has eliminated 1 million pounds of waste, such as patient beds, from reaching landfills.

• Sutter recently received a major grant from the State of California for a pilot program where ten of its hospitals—Memorial Hospital Los Banos; Memorial Medical Center; Sutter Tracy Community Hospital; Sutter Amador Hospital; Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital; Sutter Davis Hospital, Sutter Medical Center, Sacramento; Sutter Roseville Medical Center; Sutter Solano Medical Center and Sutter Surgical Hospital North Valley—are donating leftover food to local nonprofits to feed the hungry. As part of this grant, Sutter will be able to track where the food goes across Northern California and show its impact.

• Sutter’s Building Renewal Program is also making significant investments in existing buildings with the goal of creating greater efficiency and reducing emissions. Solar panels have been installed at seven campuses across the network, which represents a reduction of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 7 million pounds per year. This is equivalent to the GHG emissions for 674 passenger vehicles driven for one year or the CO2 emissions from 3.5 million pounds of coal burned for one year. In 2020, the team is evaluating many more campuses to see if installing solar is viable. Sutter is also continuing its electric vehicle charging station program.

Pledging to Do More

Sutter Health recognizes healthcare’s role in climate change. As such, it is prepared to do what it can to support Northern California’s dynamic ecosystem for the better. This commitment extends to Sutter’s nearly 60,000 employees.

“Each of us can play a role—even by making one small change to our daily routines,” said Dr. Lockhart.

Employees across Sutter’s integrated network have been invited to take a sustainability pledge to commit to making a positive impact on the environment, at work and at home in 2020.

Sutter Launches Ferrum’s AI Quality Platform to Prevent Medical Errors, Fight Cancer, and Reduce Healthcare Costs

Posted on Feb 18, 2020 in Scroll Images, Uncategorized

Sutter is the first health system in the U.S. to run quality review on applicable CT lung scans; Ferrum’s AI quality platform aims to reduce medical errors across the patient journey

SAN FRANCISCO—Sutter Health, a not-for profit healthcare network in Northern California, today announced the launch of Ferrum’s artificial intelligence (AI) powered quality platform to deliver higher quality and more consistent care to its patients. Ferrum Health’s next generation technology is designed to improve quality in medical imaging, with the goal of helping Sutter find important diagnoses like lung cancers in their early stages. Ferrum’s technology is helping Sutter support patients through improved outcomes, an enhanced care experience, and a reduced total cost of care over time.

Ferrum’s quality platform analyzes medical images alongside physicians’ written notes. It uses computer vision and natural language algorithms to identify abnormalities and flags them for Sutter clinicians to follow-up with patients and change care plans as necessary.

In August 2019, Sutter Medical Foundation went live with Ferrum’s AI-powered quality system in Sacramento, Calif. to improve lung cancer care, becoming the first in the country to run the technology on applicable CT scans and radiologist reports. The system analyzed documented findings that match, or don’t match, the algorithm’s review of the image.

“For those rare instances where a nodule is overlooked, we can in a very quick time period—usually within 24 hours—continue the care process instead of waiting until larger nodules are detected at a later medical visit,” said Charles McDonnell III, M.D., a Sutter Medical Group radiologist and associate medical director of risk management. “Having a system for quality coverage of our diagnostic decisions makes us stronger, more effective advocates for our patients, and gives patients greater comfort and peace of mind.”

If there is a potential discrepancy (i.e., a nodule or other abnormality found in the scan but not mentioned in the report), the scan is “flagged” and sent to chest radiology subject matter experts and the department quality committee for further review. Any discrepancies that the subject matter expert finds to be actual nodules which were not found in the initial reading of the scan go back to the initial radiologist. That radiologist can then update his or her report and quickly provide the patient with recommendations for appropriate high-quality care, such as a follow-up at Sutter’s Lung Nodule Clinic.

According to Jason Wiesner, M.D., a radiologist and medical director of the health system’s Diagnostic Imaging Service Line, estimated discrepancy rates at Sutter were already four times lower than the estimated rate of error nationally. With the implementation of Ferrum’s AI technology within the pilot, this number was reduced even further. In the first 90 days of deployment at Sutter, Ferrum’s AI technology reviewed more than 10,000 CT scans containing lung tissue. Eighty-three of its flagged findings warranted additional radiologist review and intervention. A subset of these patients was confirmed to have findings that needed follow-up care.

“This is a testament to the quality of work done by our radiologists on behalf of our patients,” Dr. Wiesner said. “We are giving our doctors and patients a safety net and ensuring we continue to provide the highest quality of care. This project shows the commitment of Sutter Health to providing the highest reliability healthcare to the communities we serve.”

“We’ve shown the profound impact that quality monitoring technologies can have on identifying opportunities to improve care and prevent potential medical errors,” said Pelu Tran, co-founder and CEO of Ferrum Health. “Most importantly, thanks to the advanced work of both IT teams, it took us just a single day to deploy a platform that improved the quality of diagnostic care for Sutter patients across all of Sacramento – all without impacting their physicians’ workflows. The work we’ve done here is the beginning of a new era in healthcare’s battle against medical errors, and we’re excited to continue to move the field forward alongside quality luminaries like Sutter.”

Sutter Lakeside Hospital Welcomes Scott Knight as Chief Administrative Officer

Posted on Feb 13, 2020 in Carousel, Scroll Images, Uncategorized

LAKEPORT, Calif. – Sutter Health announced today it has selected Scott Knight as chief administrative officer of Sutter Lakeside Hospital, effective Feb. 3. Knight was previously Assistant Administrator of Sutter Tracy Community Hospital.

“Scott is committed to serving the community, as he demonstrated by serving on the boards of both the Tracy and Ripon Chambers of Commerce,” said Julie Petrini, president and CEO of Hospitals, Sutter Health Bay Area. “I know Scott is eager to bring this passion for community to his new role at Sutter Lakeside.”

About Scott Knight

Scott earned his bachelor’s degree in Business Management from Brigham Young University and a master’s degree in Health Care Administration from University of Washington. Scott has a broad healthcare background in finance, revenue cycle, planning, business development, marketing and community relations, operations, and administration.

While at Sutter Tracy, Scott provided leadership for non-nursing operations and business development. During his tenure, Sutter Tracy received patient safety awards from various organizations, and in 2020 was awarded a CMS 5-star rating – the highest ranking possible – for overall performance on quality measures including readmission rates, safety of care and patient experience.

About Sutter Health

Sutter Health is more than 60,000 people strong thanks to its integrated network of physicians, employees and volunteers. Rooted in Sutter Health’s not-for-profit mission, these team members partner to deliver exceptional care that feels personal. From physician offices to hospitals to outpatient care centers and home services, they proudly support the more than 3 million people in their care—nearly 1 percent of the U.S. population, in one of the most diverse and innovative regions in the world. Sutter team members adopt new technologies, make novel discoveries and embrace creative thinking to help patients and communities achieve their best health. From its street nurse program that provides check-ups for homeless people, to telemedicine-aided specialist consultations, to walk-in care clinics, to video visits, the Sutter Health team goes beyond traditional models to make care more convenient and to nurture and empower people throughout their healthcare journey.

For more information about the Sutter Health network visit: sutterhealth.org| facebook.com/sutterhealth| youtube.com/sutterhealth| twitter.com/sutterhealth

After Saving Teen’s Life, School Nurse Pleads for Training

Posted on Feb 7, 2020 in Scroll Images, Uncategorized

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Kathy Papa, a school nurse with the Live Oak Unified School District, spreads her duties among five schools. It was luck – some may say fate or providence – that she was at Live Oak High School just after lunch on Jan. 13 when she got a call to go to English teacher Dani Fernandez’s classroom.

Use of AED
Pediatric electrophysiologist Dr. Oleg Kovalenko of Sutter Children’s Center demostrates how to use an AED.

When she arrived, she found 14-year-old Annalese Contreras slumped in her desk in full cardiac arrest, not breathing and without a pulse. Having been a hospital registered nurse, Kathy knew immediately what was wrong and what needed to be done, but never did she think she’d come upon this situation outside the hospital without a skilled team to assist her.

Kathy immediately sprung into action, starting rescue breaths, directing the 911 call, having two classmates get Annalese out of the desk and onto the floor so compressions could be started, and sending Fernandez to get the school’s portable defibrillator, called an AED. The school had it for years, but it had never been used. After a few successions of CPR, the AED arrived and Kathy applied the pads. The second shock did the trick and Annalese’s heart was back beating. She was then stabilized by EMTs and airlifted to the Sutter Medical Center Children’s Center. 

Annalese suffered cardiac arrest due to ventricular fibrillation, an event that is often fatal. Thanks to Kathy’s heroics and the care she received at the Sutter Children’s Center, Annalese is alive and now recuperating at home. Sutter Children’s Center pediatric electrophysiologist Oleg Kovalenko, M.D., pinpointed her ventricular arrhythmia and Annalese had a defibrillator called an ICD implanted by Sutter electrophysiologist Jonathan Man, M.D., to shock her heart into the correct rhythm when it detects irregular heartbeats.

“Cardiac arrest is an electrical abnormality in the heart. It leads to sudden death in many, many cases and leads to 2,000 deaths a year in children,” said Dr. Kovalenko, Sutter Medical Center’s medical director of pediatric electrophysiology. “In cardiac arrest, there’s no blood flow to your brain and your organs, and the longer a patient stays in this condition, the less chance of survival,” he said, noting that usually that’s just three to five minutes. “The only way to fix it is to shock.”

Annalese Contreras, center, was saved by school nurse Kathy Papa, left, who received the Heartsaver Hero Award from Liam Connelly of the American Heart Association.

Thankfully, Annalese received those shocks within a few minutes. For her efforts, Papa received a Heartsaver Hero Award from the American Heart Association. The AHA and Sutter Medical Center physicians urged all schools to have an AED on-site and train staff on CPR and how to use the defibrillator. Papa started working at the school district in 2019 and already had classes set up to train staff on both, and this event has made it even more important in the staff’s eyes.

As Dan Falco, co-medical director of the Sutter Medical Center Children’s Center said, “That school nurse is the real hero here.” However, Papa was quick to point out that the quick action on the part of Fernandez and the two classmates got Annalese out of the desk are heroes, too.

Annalese’s parents are so grateful to the school and Sutter Children’s Center staff for saving their daughter’s life that they traveled from Live Oak to the hospital to thank them personally and shared their thanks publicly through the media.

“I’d just like to give thanks to everybody – the school, the nurse, the emergency room, the ambulance, the helicopter, the EMS and the hospital – because if it wasn’t for all of them, my daughter wouldn’t be here today,” said Annalese’s father, Felipe Contreras. “I consider all you guys heroes.”

As for Papa, she had a plea: “I want the public to be aware that anyone can save a life, and it just takes a day of training or even just a few hours so that you know what to do in case of an emergency. And,” she said, holding up a portable AED, “this awesome device saves lives. And we all can see that that has happened.”

Here is a video of this story from Fox 40 in Sacramento.