Latest News

Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford receives Antimicrobial Stewardship Centers of Excellence (CoE) designation

The Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) named Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford as one of the 25 institutions that received its Antimicrobial Stewardship Centers of Excellence (CoE) designation. Launched last year, the IDSA CoE program recognizes institutions that have created stewardship programs led by infectious diseases–trained physicians and pharmacists and certifies that the programs are of the highest quality and have achieved standards established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The IDSA CoE program places emphasis on an institution’s ability to implement stewardship protocols by using its electronic health record system and providing ongoing education to its medical staff. Congratulations to Hayden Schwenk, MD, MPH, and his team for their efforts to combat antimicrobial-resistant infections and protect the safety of our patients.


Google Glass helps kids with autism read facial expressions

Children with autism were able to improve their social skills by using a smartphone app paired with Google Glass to help them understand the emotions conveyed in people’s facial expressions, according to a pilot study by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

The therapy, described in findings published online Aug. 2 in npj Digital Medicineuses a Stanford-designed app that provides real-time cues about other people’s facial expressions to a child wearing Google Glass. The device, which was linked with a smartphone through a local wireless network, consists of a glasses-like frame equipped with a camera to record the wearer’s field of view, as well as a small screen and a speaker to give the wearer visual and audio information. As the child interacts with others, the app identifies and names their emotions through the Google Glass speaker or screen. After one to three months of regular use, parents reported that children with autism made more eye contact and related better to others.

“We have too few autism practitioners,” said the study’s senior author, Dennis Wall, PhD, associate professor of pediatrics and of biomedical data science. Early autism therapy has been shown to be particularly effective, but many children aren’t treated quickly enough to get the maximum benefit, he said. “The only way to break through the problem is to create reliable, home-based treatment systems. It’s a really important unmet need.”



Medical errors may stem more from physician burnout than unsafe health care settings

Physician burnout is at least equally responsible for medical errors as unsafe medical workplace conditions, if not more so, according to a study led by researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

“If we are trying to maximize the safety and quality of medical care, we must address the factors in the work environment that lead to burnout among our health care providers,” said Tait Shanafelt, MD, director of the Stanford WellMD Center and associate dean of the School of Medicine. “Many system-level changes have been implemented to improve safety for patients in our medical workplaces. What we find in this study is that physician burnout levels appear to be equally, if not more, important than the work unit safety score to the risk of medical errors occurring.”

The study was published online July 9 in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings. Shanafelt, who is also a professor of hematology and the Jeanie and Stew Ritchie Professor, is the senior author. Daniel Tawfik, MD, an instructor in pediatric critical care medicine at Stanford, is the lead author.



A 'Mother's Vision': Building And Scaling A Premier Children's Hospital

The Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford began with Lucile Salter Packard's vision "to treat more than the disease; she wanted to treat the whole child and she wanted it to support the families as much as the children," said Susan Packard Orr. "Key to the success of Packard Children's has been developing a strategy - a plan for achieving our mission - and then following it."

This story is featured in Forbes Magazine.



Rare disease inspires team to develop new test for aldehyde levels in blood

During the first 10 years of their lives, kids born with Fanconi anemia lose the ability to make blood cells and need bone marrow transplants to survive. And although the transplant cures the bone marrow failure, the patients remain at greatly increased risk of cancer and rarely live past their 20s. Unfortunately, there are no drugs to treat the underlying cause of Fanconi anemia, which is thought to be DNA mutations induced by molecules called aldehydes.

Part of the problem in developing a cure comes down to an inability to measure aldehydes in the blood. But that might be about to change, thanks to an interdisciplinary collaboration aided by a grant from Stanford ChEM-H.

“If we had a drug and we were doing clinical testing, we would love to be able to say, ‘Here’s your aldehyde level before you started the drug, and here are the aldehyde levels in your blood cells after you started the drug,’” said Kenneth Weinberg, MD, a professor of pediatrics.

If successful, such a test could help in developing a treatment to stop the aldehyde-induced DNA damage in people with Fanconi anemia and also help millions who are at risk of aldehyde-related cancers because of common genetic mutations or industrial exposure.



New CEO of Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health appointed

Cynthia Brandt Stover, PhD, has been appointed president and CEO of the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health, effective September 4. Brandt Stover has been campaign director at the Smithsonian Institution since 2013. She brings more than 20 years of experience in fundraising, campaign leadership and external relations to her new role.

Brandt Stover will lead a 98-member staff. The foundation directs all fundraising for Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford and for the maternal and child health programs at the Stanford University School of Medicine. Fundraising totaled more than $163 million last year. The foundation also operates a grant-making program aimed at improving health care systems for children with special health care needs, and kidsdata.org, a website that provides data about the health and well-being of children statewide.



How border separations can traumatize children

In the last several weeks, thousands of migrant children have been separated from their parents as families attempt to cross the southern border into the United States. These separations hurt children’s well-being and can have negative effects on their developing brains, according to Stanford Children’s Health psychiatrist Victor Carrion, MD.

A professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the School of Medicine, Carrion directs the Early Life Stress and Pediatric Anxiety Program, conducting research on the psychological and neurological effects of childhood trauma. He has worked extensively with children who have experienced interpersonal violence, physical and sexual abuse, loss of loved ones and natural disasters, such as Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico and the October 2017 wildfires in Santa Rosa, California.

Science writer Erin Digitale asked Carrion to discuss how being separated from their families could affect migrant children.



Single liver donor benefits two patients

The lives of two patients — one a baby, one a retired physician — crossed paths in the most unexpected way in the summer of 2017, when a single organ donor helped save both their lives at once.

Noah Hernandez, born in February 2017, and James Howell, MD, born in 1955, had never met, but both were facing life-threatening health conditions caused by liver disorders.

Dr. Carlos Esquivel, the Arnold and Barbara Silverman Professorship in Pediatric Transplantation, was among the first surgeons to do liver transplants in children — especially tiny babies — and has been doing them for nearly three decades. When surgeons began doing split-liver transplants, it was a move that made sense, he said, because of the difficulty in finding pediatric donors. “Because of the shape of the liver, it is common to split it between recipients of varying ages,” Esquivel said. “The anatomy of the liver is such that what we call the right lobe amounts to about two-thirds of the entire liver volume. So, let’s say it’s a 3-pound liver: The adult will get about 2.5 pounds, and the child one-half pound.” The liver is the only internal organ capable of regeneration, which can begin almost immediately after surgery.