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2 posts from September 2020


Climate Neutral's CEO Austin Whitman Discusses Industry Efforts to Go Green (September 30th)

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Collectively termed subnationals, numerous academic institutions, states, cities and other local governments, companies, NGOS and other entities across the country have independently pledged to go green or become climate neutral.  Ironically, the industry most lagging in this effort is health care despite the fact that, after the food industry, health care is the largest emitter of carbon dioxide equivalents at over 650 million metric tons annually, or approximately 10% of total US greenhouse gas emissions.  Also too, despite the fact, per research published in PLOS One in 2016 by Mt. Sinai researchers, the health harm caused by the health care industry's carbon emissions causes upwards of 98,000 deaths per year – just in the US.  (The US health care industry also substantially lags behind other prominent US industries in publicly reporting its carbon emissions.)  Two weeks ago, however, Kaiser Permanente, the US's largest integrated, non-profit healthcare provider, became the first provider to achieve carbon neutral status.  In its September 14th press released announcing the achievement, Kaiser stated it had erased its annual 800,000 ton carbon footprint.  "As physicians, the press release stated further, "climate change is absolutely in our lane.”  (Listeners will recall I interviewed Kaiser's Kathy Gerwig about her organizations climate neutral efforts in May of 2019.  This is my 14th climate crisis-related interview.) 

During this 30 minute interview, Mr. Whitman provides an overview of his organization and its success to date, e.g., number of companies his organization has certified over the past year and number he expects to reach this coming year.  He describes how climate neutral status is achieved by satisfying Scope 1 through Scope 3 criteria.  He explains corporate motivations to achieve climate neutral status and the financial costs of doing so (they're in sum largely dependent on type of company) and he offers policy suggestions for faster or more rapid adoption of renewable energy.

Mr. Austin Whitman is currently CEO of Climate Neutral.  Mr.  5f1701d68e427694ba9fed34_austin-whitman-p-500Whitman has served as both Vice President of Climate Change Capital, and as Vice President of M.J. Bradley & Associates, two leaders in climate-focused investing and asset management.  In 2019, Austin founded Climate Neutral, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, aiming to accelerate the de-carbonization of global emissions through their achievable certification framework.  The framework certifies brands who measure their carbon footprint, offset it with verified offsets to net-zero, and create future reduction strategies. 

Information on Climate Neutral is at: https://www.climateneutral.org/

The PLOS One article is at: https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0157014

Kaiser's September 14 press release is at: https://about.kaiserpermanente.org/community-health/news/first-carbon-neutral-health-system-in-us



Dr. David Mayer Discusses Patient Safety During the Time of COVID-19 (September 28th)

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Patient safety, or preventable patient harm, remains a significant threat to patients, particularly seniors, now over 20 years after publication of the landmark IOM report, “To Err is Human."  The country’s failure to contain COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) stands in marked contrast to successful containment of SAR-COV-1 (and MERS and H1N1).  This failure has assuredly increased incidences of patient harm and preventable or excess deaths.   Among other explanations, a recent Harvard Business Review study concluded PPE shortages persist.  Beyond patient harm this has contributed to the death of over 600 clinician as of this past June.  A Kaiser Family Foundation study concluded as of mid-August, long term care setting deaths have numbered more than 70,000 or 45% of all COVID-19 deaths.  Worse still, research recently published in Nature found when uncounted and indirect deaths, the number of COVID-19-related deaths in the US is significantly higher.  Per the CDC, the number of excess US deaths since February 1st number 208,000.  (Listeners will recall I interviewed Paul Epner, CEO of the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine (SIDM), on the related topic of wrong, delayed or missed diagnoses.)  

During this 30 minute conversation Dr. Mayer provides a brief explanation of the Patient Safety Movement Foundation and notes his current effort to bring attention to patient harm or medical errors by walking across the US.  (You can follow him "@WalkForPTSafety.")  Moreover, he discusses the state of patient safety during the ongoing epidemic, what improvements have been made to reduce patient harm and what factors continue to explain compromised patient safety.  He also discusses what progress has been made in reducing avoidable sepsis infections (the leading cause of US hospital deaths), what federal policies would help reduce the number of medical errors and concludes by highlighting the work of MedStar's Institute for Quality and Safety.      

David Mayer, MD, is Executive Director of the MedStar Institute for Quality & Safety (MIQS) and as CEO of the Patient Safety Movement Foundation.  Previously, Dr. Mayer served as Vice President of Quality and Safety for MedStar Health.  Previously still, Dr. Mayer was employed by the University of Illinois Medical Center in Chicago as Co-Executive Director of the UIC Institute for Patient Safety Excellence and served as Director of UIC Masters of Science Patient Safety Leadership Program, Associate Dean for Education, and Associate Chief Medical Officer for Quality and Safety Graduate Medical Education.  Concurrent with these roles, he served as Vice Chair for Quality and Safety for the Department of David-Mayer_200x200Anesthesiology, where he was an Associate Professor of Anesthesiology and Director of Cardiac Anesthesiology.  Dr. Mayer also founded and has led the Annual Telluride International Patient Safety Roundtable and Patient Safety Medical Student Summer Camp for the last thirteen years.   In addition, he has served as Director of Medical Affairs of the Hospital Products Division of Abbott Laboratories and was president and Founder of Esurg Corporation.   Among other awards, Dr. Mayer was listed on the Becker’s Hospital Review 2017 and 2018 lists of Top 50 people leading patient safety.  He has been selected by the International Society for Quality in Healthcare (ISQua) as an International Quality and Safety Expert.  He is the 2013 Founders’ Awardee from the American College of Medical Quality, winner of the University of Illinois/American Association of Medical Colleges Humanism in Medicine Award and was recognized by the Institute of Medicine in Chicago in 2010 with the Sprague Patient Safety Award.  He has received grant funding from the United States Department of Education, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and the Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation.   Dr. Mayer attended the University of Illinois at Chicago for both his undergraduate and medical degrees.  He completed his internship and residency at Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center followed by a fellowship in cardiac anesthesia. 

Information on the Patient Safety Movement Foundation is at: https://patientsafetymovement.org/

The Harvard Business Review article noted is at: https://hbr.org/2020/09/why-the-u-s-still-has-a-severe-shortage-of-medical-supplies

The Kaiser Family Foundation study is at: https://www.kff.org/coronavirus-covid-19/press-release/covid-19-outbreaks-in-long-term-care-facilities-were-most-severe-in-the-early-months-of-the-pandemic-but-data-show-cases-and-deaths-in-such-facilities-may-be-on-the-rise-again/

CDC's work on COVID-19 related excess deaths is at: https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/nvss/vsrr/covid19/excess_deaths.htm