Women Physicians
GYN Medical Group
Care of Women by Women


Index   --   WPGYN Newsletter  --  Volume 8, Issue 3,  July 2011

    Women Physicians Goes Electronic

    Remodel at WPGYN

    Cell Phones and Cancer

    Is Your Teen Ready For Sex?

    What You Should Know About Ovarian Cancer

    Relay For Life - 2011

    Introducing HealthTap -- Especially for Moms and Babies

Women Physicians Goes Electronic!


If you’ve had an appointment with us within the last 6 months, you  may have noticed that we are now carrying laptops instead of bulky charts.  We’re keeping up with the best of medical care standards by using electronic medical records (EMR).    This offers a number of advantages for you including better coordination of care,  better access from multiple locations or by multiple providers, fewer medical errors, more accuracy in record-keeping by elimination of  illegible handwriting,  safer prescription writing with automatic information on drug-drug interactions, and quicker turn around time with prescriptions that are electronically sent to your pharmacy.  If you need a refill, mention to your pharmacist that we prefer to do digital refills.  For us, electronic medical records saves time, labor, and space and we hope to see a cost-savings in the future.  And we always like to save trees!


So far, we have successfully completed the scanning of your medical records from 2010 and before and they have been placed into secure electronic pdf files.   These include your doctor’s visits, labs, mammograms, pap smears,  X-rays, and hospitalizations.  New information will go directly into the digital format.  We are using a EMR called Practice Fusion which is currently the third largest EMR in the nation following the Veterans Administration and Kaiser. 


 From this              To this               And finally this                                                                                                                

Some patients  have been concerned with issues of security and privacy.  Practice Fusion makes security an absolute priority.  They use the highest levels of data infrastructure, virus prevention, spam filtering, and encryption.  They meet or exceed all HIPAA and HHS requirements. 


The most difficult part of electronic medical records is the transition period which is expected to last about a year.  During that time, please bear with us if we seem slow in pulling old data from your chart.  You can help us by coming to your appointments prepared with the exact types and dosages of your medicines, a detailed family history, and the specific type of reactions you have to medications. 





Remodel at WPGYN



Expect to hear some banging for the next couple of weeks.  We are remaining on the second floor of Women’s Hospital but our office footprint is changing to reflect our more compact practice.  In the future, the entrance to our office will be the first door on the right after exiting the elevators, the door that used to lead to the lab.  That will take you to an all new waiting area and reception area.  From there, you will enter the same exam rooms and consulting offices that Dr. Litwin and Sutherland have been using for the past 20 years, with the same quality of care you have come to expect.                                


 new entrance         new waiting room           new reception area

Because we are no longer doing obstetrics, we do have room for some gyn patients.  If you have friends or family who could benefit by our services, we would be happy to see them. 





Cell Phones and Cancer



Are you one of the 5 billion people worldwide who regularly uses a cell phone?  If so, you would probably like an answer to the question of whether or not cell phones cause cancer.  A number of studies have been performed, but none are absolutely conclusive.  Nonetheless, the WHO (World Health Organization) had a team of 31 scientists from 14 countries review the data and they have concluded there is enough evidence to say that cell phones are “possibly” cancer-causing.  They have classified the risk as 2B which is the same classification they give to the pesticide DDT, engine exhaust, pickled vegetables, and coffee.  WHO agrees that the evidence is limited, but feels there is enough evidence to warn people of the possibility.


The tumors that may have an increased risk are gliomas (aggressive brain tumors), acoustic neuromas (located where the ear joins the brain) and parotid tumors (located in the jaw area).  The most quoted study on cell phone use is Interphone  which was published in the International Journal of Epidemiology in 2010 and gathered data from 13 countries.  Although it showed no increase in cancer risk with cell phone use overall, the 10% of the highest users had a 40% increase risk in gliomas.  A Swedish study showed a doubling of acoustic neuromas after 10 years of cell phone use.  An Israeli study showed a 58% increase in cancers of parotid.  All of these studies have a number of methodological problems and all of these tumors are quite rare, so there is no need to panic.  On the other hand, cell phones have only been used widely for the past 10 years, and cancers may take decades to develop,  so we may be seeing only the tip of the iceberg. 


One of the reasons a link between cell phones and cancer seemed unlikely is because the non-ionizing radiation from cell phones was not thought to be powerful enough to result in damage to DNA.  It can, however, cause heat similar to a microwave.  The NIH did a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Society  that looked at how brain cells respond to cell phone exposure.  It showed a change in the glucose metabolism of brain cells after 50 min of cell phone use.  This finding is of unknown clinical significance.


It is interesting that the manufacturers of cell phone do have instructions in their manuals that the cell phone should not be placed directly on the ear but rather held about an inch away. 


Given our current state of information, what is the best thing to do?  Why take a risk if you don’t have to?  Any potential risks are greatest with the proximity of the phone to your ear and the length of time it is used.  Also, if the phone is moving or getting poor reception, it emits greater amounts of non-ionizing radiation.  Fortunately, alternatives are available that include using a wired earplug or speakerphone.  Bluetooth is also an option which has lower non-ionizing radiation than the cell phone but may have the disadvantage of being closer to the ear and worn for a longer time.  Texting is also an option. 


Stay tuned for more studies.  This is a critical area to have more information since cell phones are so widely used, including use by children and teens.  Their young cells may be particularly susceptible to cancer causing agents and they may be using them for many, many years to come.




Is Your Teen Ready for Sex?


If your teen has a boyfriend or girlfriend, don’t assume they are too young to become sexually active.  Don’t wait to have a conversation with them regarding the responsibility and risks that accompany sexual intimacy.  Although it may sometimes seem they are not listening to you, many studies show they actually do listen and are influenced by the values and opinions of their parents.


A good place to start might be giving them the following questionnaire (http://teenadvice.about.com/od/sexsexuality/tp/are_you_ready_to_have_sex.htm ) from About.com.  It has 20 multiple choice questions written in teen language that will get them thinking about their relationship, their feelings, and their degree of maturity.


We  recommend a visit with a gynecologist for all teen girls before they become sexually active.  We have a program at WPGYN that addresses topics of sexuality as well as body image, depression, and drug and alcohol abuse.  If your child is in high school or home from college, the summer is often a good time for an appointment.  Give us a call at 650-988-7550





What You Should Know About Ovarian Cancer


September is ovarian cancer month.  Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death from gynecologic cancers in the United States.  In 80% of cases, it has spread outside the ovary when detected.  Survival has been steadily improving, but only 50% of women will live beyond 5 years. 

The average risk for women of getting ovarian cancer in their lifetime is 1.4 percent (14 out of 1,000) but if you have a strong family history of breast and ovarian cancer and happen to carry a certain gene, the risk can go up to 15 percent to 40 percent.  Your risk may also be increased if you have had endometriosis or if you have had another cancer like bowel or uterine cancer.  If you think you may be at increased risk of ovarian cancer, please make an appointment with Dr. Sutherland or Dr. Litwin.  

There is no reliable screening method for early detection of ovarian cancer.  The symptoms of the disease are vague, and are not always gynecologic.  But research shows that  women with ovarian cancer often report having the following symptoms: 

· A swollen or bloated abdomen, increased girth.  Some women notice that their pants or skirts are getting tight around the waist.

· Persistent pressure or pain in the abdomen or pelvis 

· Difficulty eating, feeling full quickly, or indigestion

· Urinary concerns, such as urgency or frequency

· Change in bowel habits with new onset constipation and/or diarrhea

· Unexplained vaginal bleeding

Any woman may have these symptoms for reasons not related to ovarian    cancer.  However, if these symptoms are new and unusual, and persist daily  for more than two weeks, a woman should see her gynecologist, and should ask about ovarian cancer.  Vigilance regarding your symptoms and early reporting can lead to an earlier diagnosis and a better outcome.

From now until September, you can participate in the fight against ovarian cancer by raising awareness among your own friends and family.  Make sure they know the above warning signs.  You can also participate in raising awareness of ovarian cancer by joining the Teal Toes campaign.   Just paint your toenails teal to show your awareness and support.  Friends may notice your teal toes in summer sandals and you can remind them of the ovarian cancer warning signs. 





Relay For Life—2011



For the fifth year, the Women Physicians Relay For Life team completed an inspiring and empowering 24 hours at Cuesta Park on June 4/5.  In spite of the rain, spirits and energy remained high for the whole 24 hours.   This team event fights back against cancer by celebrating survivors, remembering loved ones, and raising money for cancer research and services. Thanks to all of our committed donors and teammates, we were the #1 fundraising team, raising almost $14,675.00.  In fact, the top three fundraisers were all on our team!  Dr. Sutherland was the #1 individual fundraiser, raising $6,470.00.  Mary Ding was the #2 fundraiser at $3,915.00.  Julie Moreland was the #3 fundraiser with $1,780.00  Go team!


To see more pictures of the out team, go to the Women Physicians Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/women.physicians.obgyn?ref=ts ).  We invite you to become our fan.  To see over 500 pictures of the event, go to



We would love to have you join us next year.  For more information contact Dr. Sutherland at 650-988-7550



Introducing Health Tap—especially for Moms and Babies


Women Physicians Gyn has joined HealthTap, a free online site that provides answers to your questions between your doctor’s visits.  With so much information on the internet now, it is hard to know where to turn.  A worthwhile site is www.healthtap.com.  This site was developed by expert Stanford physicians with the goal to answer specific health questions rather than to inundate patients with information overload.  This interactive service provides free, personalized health care advice from a network of qualified physicians. 


The current emphasis is on pregnancy and the first year of life — a subject which Women Physicians knows well after 28 years of experience.   It is a pleasure to share this knowledge without the requirement of long sleepless nights!  The site is planning to expand with more emphasis on women’s health care at all stages of life. 


On HealthTap, you can access the Women Physicians Medical Home, get answers to your health questions, and find tips that have been  created to help you stay healthy and happy. You’ll find WPGYN knowledge and expertise, available to you, all in one place, 24/7.


HealthTap will also make it easy for you to understand and engage in your health at home. Content on HealthTap is short and succinct, with interactive features, like a personalized checklist, that give you the support you need to stay knowledgeable, engaged, and up-to-date with what matters to you most.









El Camino Women's Medical Group provides comprehensive Obstetric & Gynecologic care for patients throughout the Bay Area. Minimally invasive surgery, infertility, women's mental health, and the MonaLisa Touch are just a few of the specialized services we offer.
The MonaLisa Touch treatment is available at El Camino Women's Medical Group. Call the office (650-396-8110) or email Shar (Shar@ElCaminoWomen.com) for more information.
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