SHAKOPEE, Minn.-A 2,000-pound diagnostic scanner tipped over and crushed an elderly patient at a Minnesota hospital last month when its rotating part hit a nearby stool, a hospital investigation has revealed. The male patient died shortly after the incident. Executives at 39-bed St. Francis Regional Medical Center in Shakopee said the accident was caused by a "rare chain of events." The stool, which patients used to mount the device, was placed in a supposedly safe location, a hospital spokeswoman said. The machine is equipped with sensors to stop movement if it hits an object, but the sensors didn't pick up the stool because of its odd angle. Hospital officials believe that when the rotating detector hit the stool, the machine was shifted into an unstable position. "We have been told that this set of circumstances-the exact placement of the stool, the exact moment when the detector moved down into contact-would be nearly impossible to recreate," St. Francis President Venetia Kudrie said in a prepared statement. The Food and Drug Administration is investigating the incident. The device, a Picker International nuclear medicine system, has been removed from the hospital.
CHICAGO-Illinois became the 16th state to sue leading tobacco companies, alleging their actions cost it $2 billion in Medicaid payments and insurance premiums because of the unhealthy side effects of smoking. It seeks hundreds of millions of dollars in restitution, penalties and damages. The 119-page suit charges companies with promoting the illegal sale of cigarettes to minors and concealing information about the addictive nature of nicotine. The Hill & Knowlton public relations firm also is named in the suit, which was filed last month in Cook County (Ill.) Circuit Court.