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  • Lucy De La Cruz
    January 20, 2022

    The renowned 39-year-old breast surgeon becomes youngest Latina woman to lead breast surgery program in U.S. at major academic medical center

    WASHINGTONLucy Maria De La Cruz, MD, has joined MedStar Georgetown University Hospital as chief of its Breast Surgery Program and director of the Betty Lou Ourisman Breast Health Center. Dr. De La Cruz is a fellowship-trained breast surgeon who specializes in advanced breast surgery procedures, including wireless lumpectomies, hidden scar technique, oncoplastic breast conservation, and nipple-sparing mastectomy. She has been published in more than two dozen peer-reviewed scientific journals, and her pivotal papers on nipple-sparing mastectomy and oncologic outcomes have been cited worldwide. She will also direct the hospital’s breast surgery fellowship program.

    Lucy De La Cruz

    “I am honored and excited to lead the breast surgery program and the Betty Lou Ourisman Breast Health Center at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital,” said De La Cruz. “It has been my life-long dream to bring my passion for medicine, helping others and building a state-of-the-art breast surgery program to advance breast health. I look forward to working with our multidisciplinary team of breast health experts to compassionately care for, educate and empower my patients in their health journey.”

    Dr. De La Cruz is an academic breast surgeon who conducts outcomes-focused research, and among her special interests are the impact of genomic mapping to guide breast cancer treatment and male breast cancer treatment. Her work is guided by a long-standing commitment to promoting equity and efficacy in breast cancer care delivery, using the principles of value-based health care.
      
    “The Betty Lou Ourisman Breast Health Center and MedStar Georgetown University Hospital are thrilled to have Dr. De La Cruz lead the breast surgery program. Her commitment to patients, their journey, and their outcomes are unmatched; and her expertise in novel surgical techniques brings new and beneficial options to patients,” said David H. Song, MD, MBA, FACS, Physician Executive Director, Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery, MedStar Georgetown University Hospital, Professor and Chair Department of Plastic Surgery, and Interim Chair, Department of Surgery, Georgetown University School of Medicine.
     
    Dr. De La Cruz’s story

    Dr. De La Cruz, 39, started her journey towards becoming the youngest Latina woman to lead a breast cancer surgery program at a major academic medical center at young age. As the daughter of international physician researchers, she spent a lot of time in labs where her parents worked, sparking her passion for medicine and “making a difference in people’s lives.” She grew up in Cuba, Mozambique, Spain, and Miami.
     
    In college, she studied abroad in the Dominican Republic at the Universidad Central Del Este School of Medicine, where students were involved in patient care very early in their education and training. There, she completed her medical degree, founded an American Medical Student Association chapter and raised scholarship funds to help those who couldn’t afford tuition.

    After graduation, she was told becoming a surgeon would be nearly impossible as a foreign medical graduate and a female. Despite this, De La Cruz obtained research fellowships from the University of Miami and George Washington University in Washington, D.C. She continued her journey by obtaining a one-year residency internship at Jackson Memorial Hospital at the University of Miami, where she earned the Intern of the Year award and an AOA medical honor society membership for her dedication to medical student teaching. During her residency, she worked on an award-winning oncologic outcomes research project for nipple-sparing mastectomy that continues to be cited worldwide.
     
    That same year, Dr. De La Cruz started her breast surgery fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania. Following graduation, she worked in private practice for a year before returning to the University of Pennsylvania as a faculty member in the associate program director of the breast cancer surgery fellowship program.
     
    After relocating to Washington, D.C., to be close to her family, she founded the breast cancer fellowship program curriculum at the Inova Health System. Now at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital and The Betty Lou Ourisman Breast Health Center, she continues to teach residents and fellows, pursue research, and care for patients – the fulfillment of her lifelong dream. 

    About MedStar Georgetown University Hospital

    About the Betty Lou Ourisman Breast Health Center


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  • January 28, 2018

    To support the MedStar Health’s further development as a nationally recognized Academic Health System, Neil J. Weissman, MD, has been appointed MedStar’s first Chief Scientific Officer. Dr. Weissman will continue to serve as President of the MedStar Health Research Institute, Professor of Medicine at Georgetown University, and as a key member of the MedStar Leader of the Future Program.

    As chief scientific officer, he will provide leadership for the development and implementation of specific scientific priorities, with a commitment to further advancing MedStar Health as an academic healthcare system. Read more.

  • January 27, 2018

    Hyattsville, MD (June 27, 2018)—Through the Pines-Kleinman Mental Health Fund, the MedStar Health Research Institute has awarded a summer research scholarship to a Georgetown University medical student. Amanda Shapiro will be studying the use of mindfulness-based therapy for parents of young children under the mentorship of Matthew Biel, MD at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital. Her research will also be supported by Stacey Kaltman, PhD, and Erin Mathis, PhD, from Georgetown University.

    “There’s a lot of evidence-based medical research coming out showing that mindfulness increases health outcomes including the management of stress, which underscores a lot of psychiatric disorders as well as general well-being,” said Shapiro. “I am extremely interested in child psychiatry as that is the field that brought me to medicine in the first place. It’s an honor to be able to participate and contribute to the wide range of research happening through the Early Childhood Innovation Network at Georgetown University.”

    “Our ongoing partnership with Georgetown University helps to make these summer scholarships possible,” said Neil Weissman, MD, chief scientific officer for MedStar Health and president of the MedStar Health Research Institute. “This research program helps to grow our future clinicians into ones who are committed to advancing health through research.”

    The summer scholar program is an eight-week program for first-year Georgetown University medical students, under the mentorship of MedStar Health physician-researchers to help advance the students’ interests in medical research in the summer between their first and second year of medical school.

    The Pines-Kleinman Mental Health fund was established in 2007 with donations from Wayne Pines, a director and former chairman of the board of the ‎MedStar Health Research Institute; Carol Kleinman, MD, JD, a practicing psychiatrist in Chevy Chase, Md.; and their family and friends. This fund supports research in the field of mental and behavioral health. The annual prize is awarded to a medical student who has demonstrated service excellence, patient-first activities, innovation, inter-hospital collaboration, and/or leadership in the field of mental health research.

    Shapiro received her undergraduate degree from the University of Delaware in 2017 in philosophy and cognitive science and a minor in medical humanities. As an undergraduate, she was involved in clinical psychology research on attachment-based therapy for suicide-prevention in children and adolescents as a research assistant. She chose to participate in the summer scholars program as she “wanted the opportunity to stay involved and gain exposure to clinical research in child and adolescent psychiatry since my ultimate goal is to become a part of that field,” she said.

    The Pines-Kleinman Mental Health scholarship is one of several summer research scholarships awarded to first-year medical students from Georgetown University. The summer program concludes with a capstone presentation in the fall of all the student-led research projects. The full list of summer scholars is available here.

     


    About MedStar Health Research Institute

    The MedStar Health Research Institute is the research arm of MedStar Health, the largest healthcare provider in Maryland and the Washington, D.C., region. MHRI provides scientific, administrative and regulatory support for research programs throughout the MedStar Health system. MHRI’s expertise includes translational research into disease prevention, diagnosis, and treatment. These programs complement the key clinical services and teaching programs in the 10 MedStar hospitals and other MedStar entities. For more information, visit www.MedStarResearch.org

    About MedStar Health

    MedStar Health is a not-for-profit health system dedicated to caring for people in Maryland and the Washington, D.C., region while advancing the practice of medicine through education, innovation, and research. MedStar’s 30,000 associates, 6,000 affiliated physicians, 10 hospitals, ambulatory care and urgent care centers, and the MedStar Health Research Institute are recognized regionally and nationally for excellence in medical care. As the medical education and clinical partner of Georgetown University, MedStar trains more than 1,100 medical residents annually. MedStar Health’s patient-first philosophy combines care, compassion and clinical excellence with an emphasis on customer service. For more information, visit MedStarHealth.org.

  • January 27, 2018

    First-Of-Its Kind Study Identifies Risks to Patient Safety and Need for Reforms

    WASHINGTON, D.C., — Specific types of electronic health record (EHR) usability issues are associated with a variety of potentially serious patient harm events, according to a study released by MedStar Health researchers with the National Center for Human Factors in Healthcare.  This study, which was published today by the Journal of the American Medical Association, is the first one of its kind to reach this conclusion, and it underscores the need for more and better collaboration among EHR vendors, providers and health systems, and other stakeholders, as well as a reexamination of federal policies for improved usability.  

    The study is based on an analysis of 1.735 million patient safety event reports, which are self-reported by clinicians, from the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority and a health system located elsewhere in the mid-Atlantic. The researchers found 557 incidents (0.03 percent) of possible patient harm, based on the reports containing language that explicitly mentioned a major EHR vendor and suggested EHR usability was a contributing factor.

    Raj Ratwani, PhD, is the senior author and serves as the Director of the Human Factors Center. This study’s lead author is Jessica Howe, MS and coauthors are Katharine Adams and A. Zachary Hettinger, MD.

    “There’s no question that electronic health records have clear benefits for clinicians and patients, and can improve the care process. However, nearly all healthcare systems have adopted an EHR and this technology has introduced some new risks to patient safety, as our study has shown,” said Dr. Ratwani. “Our view is that even one patient harm event that stems from EHR usability issues is unacceptable. These are solvable issues, and we are committed to improving EHR usability and patient safety.”

    The study identified patient harm scenarios involving seven categories of usability, including data entry, alerting and interoperability. The usability challenges were associated with four types of clinical processes, including order entry placement and medication administration. Examples include:

    • Order Placement—A physician put medication orders in the EHR while a patient was in post-surgical recovery, and soon thereafter left the hospital. Though the orders appeared complete, the orders were never activated, causing the nursing staff to question whether the orders had been discontinued.
    • System Automation and Defaults–A physician enters a patient’s blood-thinner medication to start at a specific time of day on October 1, but the EHR defaulted to October 2, which the doctor did not realize until the order has been pushed through.
    • Alerts—The EHR failed to fire an alert about a drug allergy, even though the patient’s allergy was listed in the record.

    Researchers focused on reports that explicitly mentioned one of the top-five EHR vendors (by market share) and reportedly resulted in patient harm. The analysis identified a) if a usability issue was involved, and if so, what it was, and b) the clinical process that was involved in the safety event.

    This research reinforces the need for collaboration across all stakeholders in the development, implementation and oversight of EHRs. Dr. Ratwani and partners at MedStar Health are committed to helping shape the future of EHR platforms to improve usability and help reduce the risk for patient harm. This action includes the call for greater collaboration between EHR vendors and providers to improve design and use, implementation of oversight policies as defined in the 21st Century Cures Act and development of additional research into usability and safety challenges looking at a broader sample.

    About the National Center for Human Factors in Healthcare

    The National Center for Human Factors in Healthcare occupies a unique position in the United States as the largest human factors program embedded within a healthcare system. It brings together human factors scientists, systems safety engineers, health services researchers, and clinicians to conduct safety science and applied research in medicine to improve safety, quality, efficiency, and reliability. The center is part of the MedStar Institute for Innovation and is affiliated also with the MedStar Health Research Institute. MedStar Health, the parent organization, is the largest not-for-profit healthcare provider in the Maryland and Washington, D.C., region, with 10 hospitals and an extensive ambulatory services network, and is the medical education and clinical partner of Georgetown University.  

    About Raj Ratwani, PhD

    Dr. Ratwani is the Center Director and Scientific Director of MedStar Health’s National Center for Human Factors in Healthcare and is an Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine at Georgetown University’s School of Medicine. His research is focused on improving the usability and safety of health information technology. 

    In addition to his research efforts, he works to inform health policy. He has testified in front of, and advised, the U.S. Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) committee and several other federal advisory committees focused on improving health information technology safety and accessibility for patients. He has been selected to serve on the 21st Century Cures Act Health Information Technology Advisory Committee to advise the Department of Health and Human Services.

    He holds a PhD in Human Factors and Applied Cognition and B.S. in Cognitive Science. He was a National Research Council postdoctoral fellow at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory.

    Previous Research on EHR Usability and Safety: Dr. Ratwani has published extensively on EHR usability and safety. Major articles include:

    • Examining EHR vendor usability processes.
      Ratwani, R.M., Fairbanks, R.J., Hettinger, A.Z. & Benda, N. (2015). Electronic Health Record Usability: Analysis of the User Centered Design Processes of Eleven Electronic Health Record Vendors. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.
    • Examining EHR vendor adherence to usability and safety policies.
      Ratwani, R.M., Benda, N., Hettinger, A.Z., & Fairbanks, R.J. (2015) Electronic Health Record Vendor Adherence to Usability Certification Requirements and Testing Standards. Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) 314(10):1070-1071.
    • Comparing policies on EHR usability and safety to other industries.
      Savage, E., Fairbanks, R.J., & Ratwani, R.M. (2017). Are informed policies in place to promote safe and usable EHRs? A cross industry comparison. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association
    • Demonstrating the impact of EHRs on clinician performance.
      Benda, N., Meadors, M., Hettinger, A.Z & Ratwani, R.M. (2015). Emergency Physician Task Switching Increases with the Introduction of a Commercial Electronic Health Record. Annals of Emergency Medicine.
    • A framework for comparing the usability of EHRs and challenges with comparing usability.
      Ratwani, R.M., Hettinger, A.Z., Kosydar, A., Fairbanks, R.J. & Hodgkins, M. (2016). A Framework for Evaluating Electronic Health Record Vendor User Centered Design and Usability Testing Processes. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association. Ocw 092.
      Ratwani, R.M., Hettinger, A.Z., Fairbanks, R.J. (2016). Barriers to Comparing the Usability of Electronic Health Records. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association.
    • Implications of EHR downtime on patient safety.
      Larsen, E., Fong, A., Wernz, C., & Ratwani, R. M. (2018). Implications of electronic health record downtime: an analysis of patient safety event reports. Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association. 25 (2), 187-191.
  • January 27, 2018

    COLUMBIA, Md. (February 27, 2018)—MedStar Health has created a significant new leadership position, Chief Scientific Officer, to support the health system’s further development as a nationally recognized Academic Health System.

    MedStar President and CEO Kenneth A. Samet, FACHE, and Stephen R.T. Evans, MD, Executive Vice President for Medical Affairs and Chief Medical Officer have announced the appointment of Neil J. Weissman, MD, to be MedStar’s first Chief Scientific Officer.  Dr. Weissman is President of the MedStar Health Research Institute, Professor of Medicine at Georgetown University, and has a key role in the MedStar Leader of the Future Program that focuses on developing and training emerging leaders across the system. He will continue to serve in those capacities.

    Dr. Weissman said, “I am honored to be MedStar Health’s first Chief Scientific Officer and excited about our potential to become a nationally acclaimed academic health system. MedStar Health is well positioned to help create the next wave of academic medicine – one in which we find the synergistic potential of large healthcare systems to improve the health of our communities and leverage the importance of academic partnerships.” 

     In their joint announcement, Mr. Samet and Dr. Evans stated,  “We must optimize the benefits of bringing together the best aspects of clinical care, academics, research, our partnership with Georgetown University, and our community connections if we are to realize our vision of positively impacting the health of our region.”

    As Chief Scientific Officer, Dr. Weissman will further that vision by:

    • Leading the development and implementation of scientific priorities for MedStar
    • Further developing the integration of the scientific communities and research infrastructure with MedStar’s medical education and clinical partner, Georgetown University
    • Enhancing MedStar’s national reputation by increasing academic publications and presentations that highlight ways in which MedStar is advancing health

    The Academic Health System model integrates research, education and clinical care, unlike traditional academic medicine silos. Patients are the ultimate beneficiaries when investigators, working on real-world healthcare system challenges, create new knowledge that can be immediately applied toward improving outcomes, safety, quality, accessibility, and efficiency.

    In a Modern Healthcare editorial last year, Dr. Weissman and Dr. Evans wrote: “From an academic point of view, a health system serving a diverse population in diverse care communities becomes an ideal laboratory to test different methods and determine how to overcome barriers. For the healthcare leader, this science promises to solve pressing implementation challenges.”

    About MedStar Health

    MedStar Health is a not-for-profit health system dedicated to caring for people in Maryland and the Washington, D.C., region, while advancing the practice of medicine through education, innovation and research. MedStar’s 30,000 associates, 6,000 affiliated physicians, 10 hospitals, ambulatory care and urgent care centers, and the MedStar Health Research Institute are recognized regionally and nationally for excellence in medical care. As the medical education and clinical partner of Georgetown University, MedStar trains more than 1,100 medical residents annually. MedStar Health’s patient-first philosophy combines care, compassion and clinical excellence with an emphasis on customer service. For more information, visit MedStarHealth.org

  • January 26, 2018

    Neil J. Weissman, MD, chief scientific officer for MedStar Health, served as an unbiased adjudicator and reviewer of the new technology which is expected to improve cardiovascular disease management and patient outcomes through earlier detection and monitoring. EchoMD AutoEF software was released by Bay Labs and has received 510(k) clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Read More.

  • January 26, 2018

    Dr. Kenneth Tepper to serve as Associate Chief Medical Officer and Head Orthopaedic Surgeon

    BALTIMORE—MedStar Sports Medicine orthopaedic surgeon, Kenneth Tepper, MD, will help oversee athlete medical care in July at the Federation of International Lacrosse (FIL) World Lacrosse Championship, an event often billed the Olympics of lacrosse, which brings together top players from nearly 50 countries around the world.

    “I am honored to have been chosen to provide medical care to the talented athletes of the 2018 FIL World Lacrosse Championship,” Dr. Tepper said. “It will be exciting to have the opportunity to provide medical care to the highest level of lacrosse athletes from the 46 countries that will be playing in the largest World Lacrosse Championship to date.”

    Dr. Tepper will serve as associate chief medical officer and head orthopaedic surgeon for the event, which will be held in Netanya, Israel from July 12 to July 21. Dr. Tepper, who specializes in hip arthroscopy, shoulder and knee surgery, and sports medicine, has also been head team physician for the Stevenson University men’s lacrosse team for the last 15 years. He serves as a consultant for sports hip injuries to Loyola University, Towson University, and University of Maryland, Baltimore County and has been a medical consultant to Israel Lacrosse since 2014. He sees patients at MedStar Health locations at U.S. Lacrosse Headquarters in Sparks, Pikesville, and Westminster and has been involved with the sport for 40 years as a player, coach and physician.

    More than 2,000 athletes are expected to be in attendance at the World Lacrosse Championship, which is expected to be the largest one in its 51-year history. Dr. Tepper will ensure the athletes are cared for on the field and off, and will manage any orthopaedic problems that arise. He will also help oversee all emergency care for the athletes. With high temperatures expected to be in the low 90s during the event, Dr. Tepper will help ensure players do not suffer from heat-related illnesses.

    The World Lacrosse Championship is held every four years in different countries around the world.


    About MedStar Health
    MedStar Health is a not-for-profit health system dedicated to caring for people in Maryland and the Washington, D.C., region, while advancing the practice of medicine through education, innovation and research. MedStar’s 30,000 associates, 6,000 affiliated physicians, 10 hospitals, ambulatory care and urgent care centers, and the MedStar Health Research Institute are recognized regionally and nationally for excellence in medical care. As the medical education and clinical partner of Georgetown University, MedStar trains more than 1,100 medical residents annually. MedStar Health’s patient-first philosophy combines care, compassion and clinical excellence with an emphasis on customer service. For more information, visit MedStarHealth.org.

    About MedStar Sports Medicine
    MedStar Sports Medicine is one of the premier sports medicine programs in the country. Over the past 30 years, MedStar Sports Medicine has grown to include more than 60 physicians, 40 certified athletic trainers and a network of therapists, nutritionists, and support staff at MedStar Health’s ten hospitals and diversified services. Focused on patient care, education, research and team relationships, this network of medical professionals is dedicated to enhancing the health and performance of all active people. More than 40 sports organizations, including the Baltimore Ravens, Baltimore Orioles, Washington Capitals, Washington Wizards, and US Lacrosse, have chosen MedStar Sports Medicine as their official sports medicine team. Visit us at MedStarSportsMed.org, or call 888-44-SPORT (888-447-7678).