In the Spotlight: Michael Glotzbecker, MD

New division chief provides compassionate care for pediatric patients and their families

Innovations in Orthopaedics | Summer 2019

Michael Glotzbecker, MDMichael Glotzbecker, MD

Michael Glotzbecker, MD, is a national expert in pediatric scoliosis and spinal deformities, but he isn't a typical white coat-and-tie doctor. 

The pediatric orthopaedic surgeon — and newly appointed Division Chief of Pediatric Orthopaedic Surgery at University Hospitals Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital and University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center — prefers more casual attire when he meets his patients. “It takes some of that doctor anxiety away from kids,” he says.

During his nearly 10 years at Boston Children's Hospital, Dr. Glotzbecker developed a knack for keeping kids engaged and easing parents' worries. “Kids are really smart, even at a young age,” he says. “They retain and understand things much better than we give them credit for. Full disclosure is really important when easing their fear of the unknown. Plus, you need to give parents their time as well.”

Dr. Glotzbecker's experience extends from talking to and treating kids to collaborating with leaders in pediatric medicine. “When we sought out recommendations, Dr. Glotzbecker's name was at the top of almost everyone's list,” says James E. Voos, MD, Chair of the Department of Orthopaedics at UH Cleveland Medical Center. “He has demonstrated leadership qualities, he's incredibly proficient in research, and he's an excellent and compassionate pediatric orthopaedic surgeon.” Marlene Miller, MD, MSc, Pediatrician-in-Chief, University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital noted “ We are honored to have Dr. Glotzbecker joining our Rainbow team as Division Chief of Pediatric Orthopaedic Surgery.  His expertise and leadership will further the depth and breadth of the clinically innovative care provided through our renown pediatric orthopedics program.”

The first in his family to practice medicine, Dr. Glotzbecker says he doesn't remember ever wanting to do anything else. After completing his undergraduate degree at Duke University, Dr. Glotzbecker relocated to Philadelphia to attend the Perelman School of Medicine of the University of Pennsylvania. It was there, when looking for a summer research project, that he became interested in pediatric orthopaedics. 

“People in pediatric hospitals tend to be a shade happier,” he says. “Taking care of kids is fun and challenging. They get better fast and take things with a positive attitude. I fell into the experience, but as soon as I was exposed, I knew it was the place I wanted to be.”

After completing the Harvard Combined Orthopaedic Residency Program and a fellowship at Boston Children's Hospital, Dr. Glotzbecker continued at Boston Children's as a practicing surgeon as well as an assistant professor of orthopaedic surgery at Harvard Medical School. Like many physicians, he became very interested in improving clinical outcomes and honed in on infection prevention.

As part of a national study, Dr. Glotzbecker met with about 20 physicians from across the United States. The group developed consensus-based guidelines to reduce surgical site infection in high-risk patients. He says many hospitals now use those guidelines as a baseline to decrease complications.

When Boston Children's Hospital adopted that protocol, it dropped its infection rate from 10 percent to 2 percent. “Not only is this great for patient care, it reduces costs for the patient, the hospital and the health care system,” he says.  

In addition to working on infection prevention, Dr. Glotzbecker has published several studies related to early onset scoliosis (EOS). He serves on the research council and the executive committee of the new Pediatric Spine Study Group, an amalgam of the Growing Spine Study Group and the Complex Spine Study Group. He also co-chaired the International Congress on Early Onset Scoliosis.  

In addition, Dr. Glotzbecker is part of the Harms Study Group, one of the premier research groups in pediatric spinal deformities. His resume extends to active memberships and committee service with the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgery, the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America, and the Scoliosis Research Society.

Dr. Glotzbecker will bring his physician, research and professional experience to UH later this summer. When he gets here, Dr. Voos says, Dr. Glotzbecker will help UH with its broader initiative to deliver pediatric orthopaedics in more communities. “We want to integrate our services so patients have access to high-level pediatric care in their neighborhood,” Dr. Voos adds.

In the meantime, you'll find Dr. Glotzbecker either at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital or spending time with his wife and twin daughters. “After living in Boston for 15 years, we thought it would be hard to find a place we'd love as much,” he says. “We've discovered Cleveland has a lot to offer: nice neighborhoods, big city amenities, sports and good golf courses.”

To refer a patient to Dr. Glotzbecker, call 216-844-7200.

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