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Erica Sutton, PhD

Alumni

Dr. Erica Sutton was a CBSSM Postdoctoral Research Fellow, 2013-2015. She is an interdisciplinary social scientist engaged in social and behavioral science research that explores the health care experiences of individuals living with rare genetic conditions; the manner in which biotechnologies shape personal experience and social life; and the ethical implications of these technologies for individuals, public health, social policy, health care institutions, and communities.

Last Name: 
Sutton

Thomas Valley, MD

Faculty

Tom Valley is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine in the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Michigan. He received his undergraduate degrees in history and chemistry from Emory University, and his medical degree from the University of Miami. He completed his internal medicine residency and chief residency at the University of Texas-Southwestern/Parkland Memorial Hospital.

Last Name: 
Valley
Fri, October 04, 2013

The US News & World Report quoted Sarah Hawley and cited her research in a story about the tendency of young women with breast cancer to overestimate their risk of getting cancer in the opposite, healthy breast. 

An excerpt from the article, "Unfounded Fear Prompts Some Preventive Mastectomies: Study":

The findings echo some previous research, according to Sarah Hawley, an associate professor of internal medicine at the University of Michigan Health System, in Ann Arbor. In her study, presented last year at a medical meeting, Hawley found that nearly 70 percent of women choosing the contralateral prophylactic mastectomy actually had a low risk of developing cancer in the healthy breast.

"Their findings are consistent with ours, in that desire to prevent cancer in the non-affected breast is a big reason patients reported for getting [contralateral prophylactic mastectomy]," Hawley said.

Better communication is needed to be sure women know the risks and benefits, and lack of benefit of getting the preventive surgery, Hawley pointed out. Better strategies to help patients manage anxiety and worry would help, too, she added.

 

Research Topics: 

Funded by Health and Human Services, Department of-National Institutes of Health

Funding Years: 2014 - 2015.

This is a bridge funding application for the Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center at the University of Michigan (UM Pepper Center). The specific aims of the UM Pepper Center are: 1) To support research which has a focus on enhancing the independence of older adults by improved understanding of predictors and modulators influencing the development of aged phenotypes, including healthy aging and a range of disablement outcomes. 2) To help maintain and restore the independence of older people by supporting translational research linking basic with clinical research on aging and common health problems of older adults leading to disability. 3) To provide Resource Cores (RCs) to support and assist investigator initiated research projects which can lead to new insights into the basic mechanisms underlying conditions that contribute to aged phenotypes including comorbidity and loss of independence and which develop and test innovative methods to apply to such research projects. 4) Through its Research Career Development Core (RCDC), to strengthen the UM environment for training of future academic leaders who will conduct research on mechanisms contributing to aged phenotypes, and initiate translational research to enhance independence of older adults. 5) Through its Pilot and Exploratory Studies Core (PESC), to attract UM junior faculty (or selected senior faculty not previously involved in aging research) to study problems predisposing to aged phenotypes and to carry out translational research to reduce disablement outcomes. The UM Pepper Center, now in its 25th year of continuous NIA funding, has in place a well established leadership and administrative structure, an RCDC, a PESC, and four RCs: the Human Subjects and Assessment Core; the Biomechanics Core; the Methodology, Data Management and Analysis Core; and the Core Facility for Aged Rodents. The RCDC features three central elements: 1) a competitive program which has selected promising UM junior faculty for salary support during the bridge year to conduct research relevant to the UM Pepper Center?s research focus; 2) a nationally recognized research training program for junior faculty engaged in such research, and 3) a Mentorship Program that enhances opportunities for junior faculty members to work closely with one or more UM senior investigators. The PESC, through rigorous external review, will fund 4 pilot projects in the proposed bridge year. The RC?s will support multiple externally funded projects, the Pepper Center pilot grants and RCDC junior faculty, and continue to develop and test new methods to be used in Pepper Center research.

PI(s): Jeffrey Halter

Co-I(s): Neil Alexander, James Ashton-Miller. Brant Fries, Andrzej Galecki, Kenneth Langa, Jersey Liang, Richard Miller, Lona Mody, Raymond Yung

Lauren Smith, MD

Faculty

Dr. Lauren Smith is a Clinical Professor in the Department of Pathology at the University of Michigan specializing in hematopathology. She is Director of the Ethics Path of Excellence at the Medical School. She has been a member of the University of Michigan Adult Ethics Committee since 2005 and also serves as a Faculty Ethicist in CBSSM's Clinical Ethics Service. She is Chair of the Michigan State Medical Society Ethics Committee. Her research interests include ethical issues in clinical medicine and pathology.

 
Research Interests: 
Last Name: 
Smith

Julie Wright Nunes, MD, MPH

Faculty

Julie Wright Nunes is an Assistant Professor at the University of Michigan Department of Internal Medicine. Her research interests include Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) and its prevention and also the development of methods and tools to help facilitate and optimize provider-directed CKD patient education.

Last Name: 
Wright Nunes

Janice Firn, PhD, MSW

Faculty

Dr. Firn has a BS from Michigan State University, MSW from the University of Michigan, and PhD from Lancaster University (UK). Janice is a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Learning Health Sciences (DLHS), Division of Professional Education. Before DLHS, Janice worked in oncology and palliative care at Michigan Medicine. She is also part of the Center for Bioethics and Social Sciences in Medicine (CBSSM), and serves as a Clinical Ethicist for the Clinical Ethics Service.

Last Name: 
Firn

Supporting information for: 2014 CBSSM Research Colloquium and Bishop Lecture (Myra Christopher)

 

Andrew G. Shuman, MD, Assistant Professor, Department of Otolaryngology, University of Michigan

"When Not to Operate: The Dilemma of Surgical Unresectability"

One of the most anguishing choices a surgeon can make is deciding not to embark upon an operation because a tumor is deemed unresectable.  Despite the widespread acceptance of patient autonomy and transparency in medical practice, there remains an unstated paternalism “behind the mask,” within the confines of the operating room.  The concept of surgical unresectability derives from a complex combination of tumor factors, patient factors, and surgeon factors.  In many cases, these decisions are intensely personal and subjective, with disagreements even among surgeons in the same field.  There is a risk that the voice of the patient may be lost in making these decisions, as surgeons weigh these intangible variables in ways that may be incommunicable.  However, the consequences of proceeding with an operation unlikely to achieve its intended outcome may be similarly terrifying.  In this presentation, a cancer surgeon and reconstructive surgeon will discuss these dilemmas from multiple perspectives using real-life case examples from their practice.  We will collectively try to tease out the inherent biases informing such decisions from the standpoint of doctors, patients, and clinical ethicists.  The theoretical underpinnings of the authority of surgical judgment will be explored, noting that pursuing goods internal to the practice of surgery requires such decisions, and asking whether Polanyi’s concept of tacit knowledge explains (or even permits) a degree of paternalism.  

Phoebe Danziger, BA, MD expected May 2014
 
"Beliefs, Biases, and Ethical Dilemmas in the Perinatal Counseling and Treatment of Severe Kidney Anomalies"
 

Anomalies of the kidney and urinary tract are the most common prenatally diagnosed fetal structural abnormalities, and are a major cause of end-stage kidney disease in children. Severe, prenatally diagnosed cases present a number of unique ethical issues with respect to the care of the pregnant woman, fetus, and neonate. We will use a case-based approach to explore these issues in the context of prenatal counseling, and in the neonatal period. On a case-by-case basis, efforts are made antenatally to coordinate counseling from appropriate consultants such as maternal-fetal medicine, neonatology, and pediatric urology and nephrology. We argue, however, that significant differences exist both between individual physicians and between subspecialties more broadly with regard to beliefs about prognosis, therapeutic interventions available, and appropriate utilization of palliative versus life-prolonging options. Unlike for other high-risk perinatal conditions such as extreme prematurity, no guidelines or standardized interprofessional processes exist for the provision of coordinated, timely, and non-directive care to these patients. This has implications for choices made regarding prenatal care, resuscitation efforts at birth, and utilization of palliative and life-prolonging care options, and we argue that the implicit biases and differences in both counseling and practice must be explicitly addressed and considered in order to facilitate more effective counseling for families facing these diagnoses. We will discuss the prenatal use of the term “lethal pulmonary hypoplasia,” a term that implies an unequivocal outcome but is a tissue-based diagnosis that can only be made after birth, not on the basis of obstetric ultrasound. We will also discuss the strikingly different rates of utilization of and attitudes towards dialysis initiated in the neonatal period, both between individual care providers and between institutions. 

 
Kathryn L. Moseley, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor, Pediatrics and Communicable Diseases, University of Michigan
 
"Electronic Medical Records: Challenges for Clinical Ethics Consultation"
 
Electronic medical records (EMRs) are rapidly replacing their paper counterparts. Their advantages include readability, access, organization, and comprehensiveness. The qualities that make EMRs so attractive also create new challenges for the clinical ethics consultant and the consultation process. This transition from a handwritten record of examinations and diagnoses that resided in close proximity to the patient to an electronic record that can be read remotely creates a number of concerns uniquely problematic for ethics consultation.  
We identify 4 hazards that EMRs present to ethics consultants:
Accessing significant medical information remotely, before face-to-face contact, can bias the consultant and lead to the premature development of conclusions/recommendations.
The ability to access medical information remotely can tempt the consultant to be less thorough in face-to-face information-gathering.
The paucity of nuanced information about the patient/family social and emotional situation and the content of patient/family meetings can misinform and mislead the consultant.
Remotely accessing information can delay communication with the patient and family, potentially undermining their trust in the objectivity of the ethics consultation process.
We propose the following 3 recommendations for training programs and ethics committee members to begin to address the concerns above:
1) Training programs for ethics consultants should emphasize the importance of face-to-face encounters with all stakeholders as soon as possible after receiving a consult.  Telephone only consults should be discouraged.
2) Hospital ethics committees should create procedures and processes that encourage and support face-to-face information gathering.
3) New consultants should be educated about the limitations of the EMR, especially as an accurate source of information about the emotional or social situation of the patient/family and the content of patient/family meetings.
 
 
Helen Morgan, MD,  Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Michigan
 
"Academic Integrity in the Pre-Health Undergraduate Experience"
 
Introduction: There is evidence that academic misconduct early in a student’s career can initiate a continuum of later unethical behaviors.  Multiple studies have reported that the best predictor of whether a student will cheat in medical school is whether they had a history of cheating in college.   Cheating in medical school has been found to be the strongest predictor of disciplinary action by state medical boards for practicing physicians. There is a paucity of data on perceptions of academic integrity in pre-health students. Methods: In the fall of 2013, we administered a survey on academic integrity to first-year pre-health students in the Health Science Scholars Program.  The curriculum for their course included sessions on academic integrity in the health care profession, and in the pre-health experience.  Follow-up assessments in the spring of 2014 included a re-administration of the same integrity survey, as well as a survey on students’ perceptions of what pressures and justifications lead to cheating behaviors. Results:  In the fall, students reported that 7.5% had cheated already in college, 26.2% had witnessed cheating in college, and 59.4% believed that academic misconduct was a problem at the University of Michigan.  In the spring, the percent of students who reported cheating in college was unchanged at 7.1%, and there was an increase in the number of students who reported witnessing cheating in college at 40.8% (p=0.027).    Students cited admissions requirements for graduate programs as the highest sources of pressure to cheat. Conclusion: This pilot data demonstrates that there is a need for curriculum development that could potentially prevent academic misconduct in vulnerable pre-health students.
 
 
Tanner Caverly, MD, MPH, Health Services Research Fellow, Ann Arbor VA Medical Center and Clinical Lecturer, University of Michigan
 
"How transparent are cancer screening & prevention guidelines about the benefits and harms of what they recommend?"
 
Transparent risk information -- that is, presenting absolute risks on both benefits and harms -- is essential for medical decision making. Without this information clinicians and policy-makers cannot know how much an intervention helps, whether the potential benefit is worth the potential harms, or whether one service is more helpful than another service. We recently did a structured review of clinical practice guidelines and two widely-used clinical resources. We found that few recommendations are accompanied by transparent risk information on the benefits and harms of the recommended cancer prevention service (only 23%). This talk focuses on how risk information WAS presented and the implications of our findings.
 
 
Susan D. Goold, MD, MHSA, MA , Professor of Internal Medicine and Health Management and Policy, School of Public Health, University of Michigan
 
"Controlling Health Costs:  Physician Responses to Patient Expectations for Medical Care"
 
Background: Physicians have dual responsibilities to make medical decisions that serve their patients’ best interests but also utilize health care resources wisely.  Their ability to practice cost-consciously is particularly challenged when faced with patient expectations or requests for medical services that may be unnecessary. Objective:  To understand how physicians consider health care resources and the strategies they use to exercise cost-consciousness to respond to patient expectations and requests for medical care. Design:  Exploratory focus groups of practicing physicians were conducted.  Participants were encouraged to discuss their perceptions of resource constraints, experiences with redundant, unnecessary and marginally beneficial services, and asked about patient requests or expectations for particular services. Participants:  Sixty-two physicians representing a variety of specialties and practice types participated in 9 focus groups in Michigan, Ohio, and Minnesota in 2012. Measurements:  Iterative thematic content analysis of focus group transcripts. Principal Findings:  Physicians reported making tradeoffs between a variety of financial and nonfinancial resources, considering not only the relative cost of medical decisions and alternative services, but the time and convenience of patients, their own time constraints, as well as the logistics of maintaining a successful practice.  They described strategies and techniques to educate patients, build trust, or substitute less costly alternatives when appropriate, often adapting their management to the individual patient and clinical environment. Conclusions:  Physicians often make nuanced trade-offs in clinical practice aimed at efficient resource use within a complex flow of clinical work and patient expectations.  Understanding the challenges faced by physicians and the strategies they use to exercise cost-consciousness provides insight into policy measures that will address physician’s roles in health care resource use.
 
 
 
 

Raymond De Vries is co-author on a new publication in Academic Medicine, highlighting a successful model for collaboration which was developed in the early phases of a grant funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation nearly five years ago. The Collaborative Health Alliance for Reshaping Training, Education, and Research (CHARTER) project expanded the partnerships between the University of Michigan and several Ghanaian academic institutions to enhance health care provider education and build and/or increase research capacity. One of the early goals of the grant was to establish guiding principles for engagement through a Charter of Collaboration.


Read more about the partnership through UMHS News and the origional PubMed article.

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