Archive for Friday, December 7, 2001

Nation Briefs

December 7, 2001


Washington: Surgical errors on rise

The number of surgical calamities in which a doctor operates on the wrong part of a patient's body, and occasionally on the wrong patient, appears to be increasing, according to the organization that accredits U.S. hospitals.

Reports of "wrong-site surgery" have risen from 16 in 1998 to 58 this year, including 11 in the last month, according to the president of the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO).

It is unknown whether this reflects a true increase in this most notorious type of surgical accident or simply more complete reporting of cases.

Philadelphia: Fifth heart recipient grateful for '2nd chance'

A retired baker and grandfather of five who was the world's fifth recipient of a self-contained artificial heart is walking without assistance and said he's thankful to have a "second chance."

"Each day I get stronger," said James Quinn, 51, of West Philadelphia, whose identity had been a secret until a news conference Thursday, one month after his Nov. 5 operation.

The first recipient, Robert Tools, died Nov. 30 of internal bleeding and organ failure after living with the device for 151 days. A sixth died from uncontrolled bleeding during an operation in Houston.

Massachusetts: Teen pleads innocent in counselor's death

A 17-year-old student pleaded innocent to murder Thursday in the fatal stabbing of a high school counselor who prosecutors said was killed after he asked the student to remove his jacket hood from his head.

Corey Ramos was ordered held without bail.

The Rev. Theodore Brown, 51, was stabbed Wednesday during a classroom argument in front of other students and another teacher at Springfield High School. Ramos' lawyer, Alan Black, said Ramos was "distraught" over the killing.

Grief counselors were on hand at the school Thursday, and acting Gov. Jane Swift visited students.

Denver: Columbine publication prompts rehearing bid

Relatives of those killed at Columbine High School want a judge to reconsider their dismissed lawsuits against school officials and authorities after the publication of journal entries by gunman Eric Harris, a lawyer for two families said Thursday.

The journal written a year before the April 20, 1999, rampage details how Harris and Dylan Klebold planned to set off hundreds of bombs around houses, roads, bridges and service stations. Its publication this week renewed speculation that authorities and school administrators could have done more to prevent the attack.

Washington: Cancer survivor named to lead national institute

Dr. Andrew von Eschenbach, a cancer surgeon who twice has been treated for the disease, brings to his new job as head of the National Cancer Institute a personal understanding of "cancer's frightening effects," President Bush said Thursday.

Bush, who announced the appointment in a White House ceremony, said Eschenbach was "one of America's finest medical researchers" and a man who "understands personally the importance of our war on cancer.

Von Eschenbach, 60, is a prostate cancer expert and surgeon at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

Washington: Study: Air quality on jets can be hazardous

The air quality aboard jetliners can be hazardous to passengers' health, the National Academy of Sciences said Thursday, as it called for an ambitious monitoring program that could lead to stricter federal requirements.

A panel convened by the Academy's National Research Council said in the first major report on the subject in more than 15 years that areas of concern include cabin pressure, ozone and carbon monoxide levels, and potential exposures to pesticides and to fumes from engine oil, hydraulic fluids and de-icing liquid. However, ventilation systems "do not appear" to facilitate the spread of viruses and infections, it said.

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