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Sharon Theimer


Activity by Sharon Theimer

Sharon Theimer

Wed, Jul 1 at 8:15am EDT by stheimer · View  

One in 4 People Prescribed Opioids Progressed to Longer-Term Prescriptions

pain medication, pills in a bottle

ROCHESTER, Minn. — Opioid painkiller addiction and accidental overdoses have become far too common across the United States. To try to identify who is most at risk, Mayo Clinic researchers studied how many patients prescribed an opioid painkiller for the first time progressed to long-term prescriptions. The answer: 1 in 4. People with histories of tobacco use and substance abuse were likeliest to use opioid painkillers long-term.

The findings are published in the July issue of the medical journal Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

While the study identified past or present nicotine use and substance abuse as top risk factors for long-term use of opioids, all patients should proceed with caution when offered opioid painkiller prescriptions, says lead author W. Michael Hooten, M.D., an anesthesiologist at Mayo Clinic in Rochester.

“From a patient perspective, it is important to recognize the potential risks associated with these medications. I encourage use of alternative methods to manage pain, including non-opioid analgesics or other nonmedication approaches,” Dr. Hooten says. “That reduces or even eliminates the risk of these medications transitioning to another problem that was never intended.”

MEDIA CONTACT: Sharon Theimer, Mayo Clinic Public Affairs, 507-284-5005, Email:  [...]

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Sharon Theimer

Thu, Jun 25 at 9:10am EDT by stheimer · View  

Mayo Clinic Reacts to Supreme Court Ruling on Affordable Care Act

Mayo Clinic CEO & President Dr. John Noseworthy standing outside Gonda and Plummer buildingsMayo Clinic CEO John Noseworthy, M.D., released the following statement reacting to the Supreme Court ruling today on the King v. Burwell case upholding subsidies:

"The federal premium subsidies will continue to reduce the cost of insurance for the millions of Americans who receive them and continue to improve access to health care,” says John Noseworthy, M.D., CEO of Mayo Clinic, which has campuses in Minnesota, Florida and Arizona. “It is important that we not step back from our commitment to health insurance coverage for all Americans.”

MEDIA CONTACT: Sharon Theimer, Mayo Clinic Public Affairs, / 507-284-5005.

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Sharon Theimer

Mon, Jun 22 at 1:45pm EDT by stheimer · View  

MEDIA ADVISORY: Mayo Clinic Director of Diversity and Inclusion Takes Part in White House Forum on Diversity in STEM Workforce

STEM science technology engineering math written in white chalk on a black chalkboard isolated on white

WASHINGTON — Mayo Clinic is participating in the White House Forum on Excellence and Innovation through Diversity in the STEM Workforce. Participants will meet tonight and Tuesday to discuss their organizations’ efforts to increase diversity among science, technology, engineering and math professionals. Sharonne Hayes, M.D., director of diversity and inclusion at Mayo, calls medicine the “extra M” in STEM; as an academic medical center focused on health care, research and education, Mayo offers a wide range of STEM-related employment and is working to increase diversity.

WHO:     Sharonne Hayes, M.D., director of diversity and inclusion at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.   

WHAT:  The White House Forum on Excellence and Innovation through Diversity in the STEM Workforce, sponsored by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the White House Council on Women and Girls. Participants will discuss the state of diversity in science, technology, engineering and math jobs, how to measure it, and challenges and best practices as organizations work to increase diversity.

WHERE: Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Washington.

WHEN:    Monday, June 22, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET; Tuesday, June 23, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET. Dr. Hayes will be available for phone interviews during and after the forum.

For an interview with Dr. Hayes, please contact Sharon Theimer at 507-284-5005 or

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Sharon Theimer

Mon, Jun 8 at 2:39pm EDT by stheimer · View  

Wedding Surprise: Heart Failure Patient Works with Mayo Team to Leave Hospital, Walk Daughter Down Aisle

Andre Pearson, a heart failure patient who has been at Mayo Clinic since March, initially was too ill to leave the Rochester, Minn., hospital to go to his daughter’s wedding in California. He had resigned himself to watching it online. But a few days before the Saturday evening ceremony, with Mr. Pearson doing well, his care team decided to explore whether it might be possible for him to make the trip after all. With the right game plan in place, they determined that it was. A Mayo staff member accompanied him, and Mr. Pearson surprised his daughter, Alexandra, by arriving the evening before the wedding in Indio, Calif., and promising to walk her down the aisle.

"I can't help but cry, but it's tears of joy," Mr. Pearson said Thursday, after learning that he had received medical clearance to leave the hospital for the wedding and his travel plans were under way.

When Mr. Pearson, 61, of Omaha, Neb., arrivedwedding at Mayo in late March, it looked like he might have only a year to live. The ordained pastor was too ill to qualify for a heart transplant, and his kidneys were failing. After surgery in which Mayo surgeons repaired his heart valve and, for the first time at Mayo, implanted both a left ventricular assist device and a temporary right ventricular assist device to help his heart pump, followed by ongoing dialysis and physical rehabilitation, Mr. Pearson is now well enough that he will likely return home within the next month.

After that, he will be evaluated for a possible heart transplant. His kidneys are recovering as well, so he may not need dialysis long-term. His lead cardiac surgeon, David L. Joyce, M.D., credits Mr. Pearson’s tenacity for his recovery.LVAD RVAD figure01

"Really, if you were just to look at everything on paper, you would say, `There's really nothing here we can offer.' Then when you meet Mr. Pearson and you realize what he's capable of, then you start to think outside the box a little bit," Dr. Joyce says. "That's when we came up with the idea of using a new device for supporting the right heart (the right ventricular assist device). He was kind of a pioneer and willing to take on that uncertainty, and it actually worked out beautifully."

Mr. Pearson is the brother of former Dallas Cowboy Drew Pearson, famous in Minnesota for catching a "Hail Mary" pass against the Minnesota Vikings. Not knowing that Andre Pearson’s brother was Drew Pearson, Dr. Joyce told him before surgery that it would be a bit of a Hail Mary pass; Mr. Pearson and his wife, Gina Pearson, then remarked that they know all about those.

Journalists: Video of Mr. Pearson surprising his daughter and walking her down the aisle and of Mr. Pearson and Dr. Joyce discussing his medical case and the "Hail Mary Pass" is available in the downloads. For interviews, please contact Sharon Theimer in Mayo Clinic Media Relations at or 507-284-5005. [...]

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Sharon Theimer

Mon, Jun 1 at 10:00am EDT by stheimer · View  

How Does Human Behavior Lead to Surgical Errors? Mayo Clinic Researchers Count the Ways

Four to nine factors contributed to each `never event,’ study finds

ROCHESTER, Minn. — Why are major surgical errors called “never events?” Because they shouldn’t happen — but do. Mayo Clinic researchers identified 69 never events among 1.5 million invasive procedures performed over five years and detailed why each occurred. Using a system created to investigate military plane crashes, they coded the human behaviors involved to identify any environmental, organizational, job and individual characteristics that led to the never events. Their discovery: 628 human factors contributed to the errors overall, roughly four to nine per event. The study results are published in the journal Surgery.gallbladder removal, surgery in the operation theatre

The never events included performing the wrong procedure (24), performing surgery on the wrong site or wrong side of the body (22), putting in the wrong implant (5), or leaving an object in the patient (18). All of the errors analyzed occurred at Mayo; none were fatal.

The Mayo Rochester campus rate of never events over the period studied was roughly 1 in every 22,000 procedures. Because of inconsistencies in definitions and reporting requirements, it is hard to find accurate comparison data, but a recent study based upon information in the National Practitioner Data Bank estimated that the rate of such never events in the United States is almost twice that in this report, approximately 1 in 12,000 procedures.

MEDIA CONTACT: Sharon Theimer, Mayo Clinic Public Affairs, 507-284-5005, Email:

Journalist: Sound bites of Dr. Bingener discussing the study are available in the downloads. [...]

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Sharon Theimer

Thu, Apr 30 at 3:21pm EDT by stheimer · View  

NIH Funding Key to Health Care, Economy, Mayo Clinic Tells Congress

Dr. John NoseworthyMayo Clinic President and CEO John Noseworthy, M.D., submitted the following written testimony to the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies on Wednesday on the fiscal 2016 federal budget:

Introduction.  On behalf of the Mayo Clinic, thank you for the opportunity to submit testimony regarding Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 appropriations.  For the reasons enumerated below, Mayo requests no less than $32 billion in FY 2016 funding for the National Institutes of Health (NIH).  NIH-funded research is an essential national investment that increases understanding of human disease, spurs the development of novel diagnostics and therapies, and uncovers new strategies to prevent disease and to improve health. Because NIH is the largest source of biomedical research funding not only in the United States but also in the world, the failure of NIH funding to keep pace with medical inflation decreases support for and the conduct of basic research; inevitably, this compromises the realization of those crucial scientific breakthroughs that enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce disease and disability.  “Important secondary benefits of medical research such as job creation, regional and global economic activity, international competitiveness, intellectual property and commercializable products are likely adversely impacted as well.”[1]  While NIH funding is certainly not Mayo’s only Labor-HHS funding priority, it is on behalf of these research efforts that we focus on NIH funding in our testimony today.

MEDIA CONTACT: Sharon Theimer, Mayo Clinic Public Affairs, / 507-284-5005 [...]

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Sharon Theimer

Thu, Apr 30 at 11:00am EDT by stheimer · View  

Vitamin D Toxicity Rare in People Who Take Supplements, Mayo Clinic Study Finds

cod liver oil omega 3 gel capsules - Vitamin D capsules, supplements

Over the past decade, numerous studies have shown that many Americans have low vitamin D levels and as a result, vitamin D supplement use has climbed in recent years. Vitamin D has been shown to boost bone health and it may play a role in preventing diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular disease and other illnesses. In light of the increased use of vitamin D supplements, Mayo Clinic researchers set out to learn more about the health of those with high vitamin D levels.  They found that toxic levels are actually rare.

Their study appears in the May issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

A vitamin D level greater than 50 nanograms per milliliter is considered high. Vitamin D levels are determined by a blood test called a serum 25-hydroxyvitamin D blood test. A normal level is 20-50 ng/mL, and deficiency is considered anything less than 20 ng/mL, according the Institute of Medicine (IOM).

MEDIA CONTACT: Sharon Theimer, Mayo Clinic Public Affairs, 507-284-5005, Email: [...]

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Sharon Theimer

Mon, Feb 2 at 4:00pm EDT by stheimer · View  

Ultrasound Narrows Which Breast Cancer Patients Need Lymph Nodes Removed

Rochester, Minn. — Which breast cancer patients need to have underarm lymph nodes removed? Mayo Clinic-led research is narrowing it down. A new study finds that not all women with lymph node-positive breast cancer treated with chemotherapy before surgery need to have all of their underarm nodes taken out. Ultrasound is a useful tool for judging before breast cancer surgery whether chemotherapy eliminated cancer from the underarm lymph nodes, the researchers found. The findings are published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

This ultrasound shows an abnormal lymph node before chemotherapy for breast cancer.

This ultrasound shows an abnormal lymph node before chemotherapy for breast cancer (Mayo Clinic).

In the past, when breast cancer was discovered to have spread to the lymph nodes under the arm, surgeons routinely removed all of them. Taking out all of those lymph nodes may cause arm swelling called lymphedema and limit the arm’s range of motion.

Now, many breast cancer patients receive chemotherapy before surgery. Thanks to improvements in chemotherapy drugs and use of targeted therapy, surgeons are seeing more women whose cancer is eradicated from the lymph nodes by the time they reach the operating room, says lead author Judy C. Boughey, M.D. a breast surgeon at Mayo Clinic in Rochester.

MEDIA CONTACT: Sharon Theimer, Mayo Clinic Public Affairs, 507-284-5005, Email:

Sound bites with Dr. Boughey are available in the downloads.

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