Mass. General Hospital


MGH Patient Monitored For Possible Ebola ‘Cleared Medically,’ Discharged

A patient who was being monitored for possible Ebola and then tested positive for malaria was “cleared medically” and discharged from Massachusetts General Hospital Friday morning, hospital officials announced in a statement.

The patient’s release and current condition are not a threat to anyone else, MGH officials said. The patient, who has not been identified, had been under the hospital’s care since Tuesday.

“As we noted previously this patient had been definitively diagnosed with malaria and is responding well to anti-malaria treatment,” hospital officials said in the statement. “The patient has had no fever or other symptoms for the past 24 hours.”

In a press conference Wednesday, Dr. David Hooper, the head of Mass General’s infection control unit, said the patient had traveled to Liberia in recent weeks, but worked in an administrative role.

Hooper said he did not have the patient’s permission to disclose where he worked while in Liberia, but said the patient “did not have direct contact with Ebola patients” and was tested “out of an abundance of caution.”

MGH officials also noted in the statement that screening the patient for Ebola afforded them the “opportunity to see firsthand the benefits of the extensive preparations that have been under way through the hospital for the past several months.”

Officials praised their response and said preparations included carefully following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention protocols for treating possible Ebola cases.


Responding To Relman: ‘Spaulding Gave Charlie His Recovery’

Yesterday we linked to Dr. Arnold Relman’s gripping near-death story of breaking his neck last summer, and the medical odyssey that followed. In it, Relman, the former editor of The New England Journal of Medicine, lavished superlatively high praise on Massachusetts General Hospital, where he was initially treated, but was much more critical of Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Cambridge, where he spent about a month recovering.

That critique left some Spaulding patients (and their families) feeling perplexed and a bit slighted. Jeanette Atkinson, the wife of former Spaulding patient Charlie Atkinson, asked for space to offer another perspective.

Charlie Atkinson, 78, at home, is still recovering from West Nile Virus. (Courtesy)

Charlie Atkinson, 78, at home, is still recovering from West Nile Virus. (Courtesy)

Charlie was the subject of a recent CommonHealth post: West Nile Story: 400 Days In Hospital, A New View Of Health Care (And Life)

Jeanette submitted this “rebuttal” after reading Relman’s piece:

My husband, Charlie Atkinson, and I are in a particularly good position to respond to Dr. Arnold Relman’s article, “On Breaking One’s Neck,” since Charlie recently spent five weeks at Massachusetts General Hospital and thirteen months at Spaulding Long Term Acute Care Hospital in Cambridge and received spectacular care at both.

MGH saved his life. As Charlie (age 76 at the time) fell into a deep coma in August, 2012, doctors there inserted a breathing tube, started a ventilator, administered oxygen and drugs, inserted catheters, ordered tests, and worked around the clock to diagnosis his illness – which turned out to be West Nile virus of the most devastating kind.

After three weeks in Mass General’s intensive care unit and two in the respiratory acute care unit, he was stable enough to be discharged – but to where? He was tethered to respiratory machinery; he was almost completely paralyzed; he knew his name, but not where he was; and he would never have been able to maintain the rigorous physical therapy schedule at a place such as Spaulding Rehabilitation in Boston. He was still far too sick to be admitted to a regular nursing home/rehabilitation facility.

Spaulding Hospital, Cambridge, gave him his recovery. We’d never even known of the existence of “LTAC’s,” or Long Term Acute Care hospitals. Their range of services is much more limited (and far less expensive) than those of full service hospitals such as MGH, and much more focused on helping patients achieve a maximum quality of life while treating their on-going medical problems. Spaulding, Cambridge does that superbly. Continue reading

Marathon Medical Update: Shrapnel Abounds, Leg Amputations For Some

WBUR’s Martha Bebinger reports that the number of patients being treated for Marathon bomb-related injuries is now up to 187. At least 24 people are in critical condition at 14 area hospitals. Many have been treated and released. Three people have died.

Doctors at several hospitals are reporting that based on injuries, it appears that the bombs were packed with shrapnel.

Bebinger quotes Dr. Stephen Epstein, at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center saying: “What we were seeing looked like BBs,” consistent “with the explosive devices.”

WBUR’s Asma Khalid was at Massachusetts General Hospital for a news conference this morning. She said doctors have treated 31 patients; 12 were admitted, 8 are in serious condition and 4 required amputations of lower extremities, according to Dr. George Velmahos, Chief of Trauma Services at MGH. They are more optimistic than yesterday, Khalid said; “everyone who was in the ICU is alive and stable.”

Khalid was also at Tufts Medical Center and reports that doctors saw 14 disaster-related patients; 10 are still in the hospital. She reports that there have been no amputations so far. She said Bill Mackey, chief of surgery at Tufts, described injuries in the lower extremities and included open fractures, nerve damage and muscle damage. Most injuries were between the knee and ankle. She said the medical team detected small shards of metal, and small metallic fragments, ranging from 1 centimeter to a few millimeters.

A man in the crowd following the explosion. (AP Photo/The Daily Free Press, Kenshin Okubo)

A man in the crowd following the explosion. (AP Photo/The Daily Free Press, Kenshin Okubo)

As of this morning, seven of the 10 kids treated at Children’s Hospital Boston have been released, according to the hospital. Three pediatric patients remain, with two of them in critical condition in the Medical/Surgical ICU and one on a surgical unit. Here’s the official update:

Our latest patients included:

— 2-year-old boy with a head injury in good condition.

— 10-year-old boy with multiple leg injuries in critical condition.

— 9-year-old female with leg injury in critical condition. Continue reading

A Man, A Tattoo And His Loyalty To MGH

In case you missed it, read this post by Kristiina Sorenson on Healthcare Savvy about her husband’s new tattoo. The story begins like this:

One day my husband came home from work and announced that he wanted to get a tattoo.  Greg was a neuroradiologist at Massachusetts General Hospital — more of a science nerd than an ink lover — so this caught my attention.  He said he wanted to have a tattoo right across his forehead that said:


A volunteer tests out Greg’s tattoo design.

If he ever collapsed somewhere, he said, he wanted to be sure that he was taken to Mass General, and not to the nearest community hospital.

Greg had started working at a lab at MGH when he was in medical school, and he had done his radiology residency and fellowship there, so his ties to the hospital went back a long ways.  But this bit about the tattoo was more than just institutional loyalty.  He was convinced that the care at Mass General was better than at many of the smaller hospitals.

He proved his commitment to MGH one night when he became a patient himself.  One evening I came home and found Greg lying on the bathroom floor writhing in pain.   On the 1-to-10 scale of pain, he said he was at a 10.  He clearly needed to be seen by a doctor, so he managed to get himself out to the car, and I started heading to the nearest emergency room.  “No,” he said. “Take me to MGH.”  Every bump in the road caused him to moan in pain, and and every extra minute of the drive was excruciating, but even in unbearable pain, he was adamant that he wanted to go to Mass General.

The piece, however, is far broader than simply about one guy’s loyalty to his workplace. Continue reading