Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

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A BI-WEEKLY PUBLICATION FROM THE CEDARS-SINAI CHIEF OF STAFF June 7, 2013 | Archived Issues

P&T Committee Adds Medical-Grade Honey to Formulary

Pharmacy Focus

April's actions by the Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee include the addition of medical-grade honey to the formulary. Also, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is advising healthcare professionals against using magnesium sulfate injections for more than five to seven days to stop pre-term labor in pregnant women.

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Grand Rounds

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Upcoming CME Conferences

Click below to view a complete list of all scheduled Continuing Medical Education conferences.

CME Newsletter - May 2013 (PDF)

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Longtime Emergency Co-Chair Retiring - But Not From Patients

For James Loftus, MD, the plan, back when he was starting out, was retirement by age 55. Thirteen years after that birthday, he's finally following through. Sort of.

After serving as co-chair of the Emergency Department at Cedars-Sinai for 26 years, during which he oversaw the expansion of the department and helped lead it into the digital age, Loftus is stepping down from his administrative duties. He will remain on the Cedars-Sinai medical staff, however, and will continue his favorite part of working in the ED – seeing patients.

"It's like when you meet the right person, you just know," Loftus said of his decision to give up his post as co-chair. "This is the right time to step down from my administrative duties, and I just knew that. Now, it's time to be with my family."

Loftus' journey to his leadership at the ED began at the University of Tennessee Medical School, where he graduated with honors and won the President's Medal. He then moved to Los Angeles for a one-year internship at UCLA, followed by two years working for the U.S. Public Health Service, first at a hospital on the Navajo reservation near Shiprock, N.M., and later in Phoenix.

"I loved that work, loved the people and the country," Loftus said. "There were medicine men there who had as much say as I did when taking care of people, working with chants and doing sand paintings on the floor."

In 1973, Loftus returned to California, where he completed a two-year residency, again at UCLA. Although he planned to specialize in pulmonology or rheumatology, he first did a stint in an emergency department in San Gabriel.

"Almost immediately, I said, 'This is it, this is my place, this is my personality,'" he recalled. "I recently found an old schedule – my first shift in the ED was Dec, 12, 1976."

Colleagues were unanimous and unstinting in their praise of Loftus, calling him an excellent doctor and a gifted administrator.

"He's been very collaborative and trustworthy," said Joel Geiderman, MD, co-director of the ED since June 1993. "We've had a good working relationship, and complement each other in this partnership."

Loftus helps center the staff of the ED, a challenging department known for its fast pace, Geiderman said.

Geiderman also hailed Loftus as an early adopter of computerized record keeping, including a precursor to CS-Link™ in the late 1990s.

"The ED was the first department at Cedars-Sinai to automate the physician order entry system, which is an important legacy," Geiderman said.

Another legacy is the bond patients feel with Loftus, said Sam Torbati, MD, vice chair of the ED who will take on the role of co-chair in July.

"His patients love him," Torbati said. "And that's probably not something he'd be willing to tell you, as he's extremely modest."

Loftus is drawn to both the challenge of medicine and to the people he treats, Torbati said.

"He's not only a great clinician, but he also has a gift for being able to bond with his patients," Torbati said. "His patients know that he has a deep interest in them outside of the disease that brought them to the ED and that he cares about them as individuals."

Among Loftus' other attributes are his deep knowledge about the medical center, and his ties and connections to so many staff members.

"He knows everyone in the hospital," said Gayla Nielsen, RN, PhD, who serves as administrative director of the Emergency Department. "He brings a lot of wisdom to the role and, because of his breadth of experience, is able to process the most complicated situations in a way that is calm, thoughtful and tailored to meet the highest-quality outcome."

Nielsen said she, like the rest of the ED staff, is happy Loftus isn't retiring completely.

"He reassures us he's not going away, he's just giving up the co-chair position," she said.

Loftus estimates he spends 60 percent of his time in Emergency on administrative tasks, the rest on clinical work. Taking a step back from the administrative side will give him more time to spend with patients and with his greatest love of all, his family.

"My kids – Jimmy is 13 and Katie is 11 – are at a point where they need me around more," Loftus said. "One of the advantages of having kids when you're older is that you've done the work of building your career and you now have more time to spend with them."

That means attending his son's baseball games and watching his daughter dance and play soccer. And at the medical center, he'll be able to focus on his first love in medicine – the people he treats.

"Being a physician is one of the most rewarding careers you can have," Loftus said. "You get to meet and help so many different people, hear their stories and make a difference in their lives. I still get tremendous satisfaction out of it, and look forward to this new phase in my career."

Leadership Changes in Department of Emergency Medicine (PDF)