It seems there may be a new way to draw attention to your cause-by not getting any when you first seek it. At least that's how it's turning out for Mark Coyle, who handles media relations for a group called the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths. He helped organize a Jan. 5 news conference at the National Press Club in Washington.
On paper, the event appeared to have all the elements needed to attract a crowd of reporters: the release of a dramatic report outlining the human and financial costs of hospital-acquired infections, the mother of a man who died from an infection he acquired while being treated for injuries suffered in a mugging, and a prominent spokeswoman-former New York Lt. Gov. Betsy McCaughey, now a health policy expert and the committee's founder.
The only element missing from the news conference were reporters, prompting Coyle to send a mass e-mail to the media noting how he alerted hundreds of journalists, "Yet today, not a single member of the news media showed up for this important press conference dealing with the health, safety and life of Americans who go into hospitals. This is very disconcerting."
"We thought if you went into the National Press Club, surely one or two reporters would show up," Coyle tells Outliers, adding that he received word from one freelance journalist who said she didn't attend because no food or beverages were offered.
McCaughey, however, downplayed the snubbing and says she's received much media attention since then. Coyle adds that his e-mail did receive many positive replies, including one from a reporter who said, "I'm glad you poked me in the eye on this."
Talk about a recall
Tissue-implant recipients are being cautioned that they might have received suspect tissue from cadavers, including that of the late journalist Alistair Cooke, who had also hosted "Masterpiece Theatre."
Last month New Jersey health authorities were reminding hospitals in the state that they should be notifying patients who might have received tissue subject to a Food and Drug Administration recall in October. The FDA said at the time that it was recalling tissue procured from Biomedical Tissue Services in Fort Lee, N.J., because there was a possibility that the tissue came from donors without proper medical or social histories. The company supplied tissue processors with bone, skin and tendons from donors who may have not met eligibility requirements regarding infectious disease screening, says Marilyn Dahl, New Jersey's deputy commissioner of healthcare quality and oversight, in a letter that went out to hospitals last month.
According to the Associated Press, authorities believe the bone, skin and tendons of hundreds of people, including Cooke, were secretly harvested from several New York City funeral parlors and then sold for a profit for transplant use.
The New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services says it is also working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on one case involving a tissue recipient who reportedly contracted hepatitis C. State health officials are trying to determine whether the patient's illness might be linked to the recalled tissue, says Marilyn Riley, a department spokeswoman.
Hospitals have an obligation to ensure that affected patients are notified, but they should also be assured that "No actual disease transmission has been reported," Dahl says in the letter. The tissue in question may have been implanted in patients between early 2004 and September 2005, she says. The FDA is recommending that patients be offered appropriate infectious-disease testing, but hospitals that received and implanted the recalled tissue are not under any obligation to report it to health authorities, she adds. "It would seem that this event was largely out of the control of the hospital," Dahl says.
It's a wrap
Mummies have a long history in Hollywood. Boris Karloff starred as the accidentally revived Egyptian priest Imhotep in the 1932 horror classic "The Mummy." But mummies in healthcare?
Well, Minnesota's doctors, Allina Hospitals & Clinics and insurer Preferred One are backing the "The Power of the Pyramid," a comedy featuring Preston, an aspiring waiter, and his nemesis the Food Pyramid Mummy. The play, opening in late January, teaches nutrition and fitness and is expected to reach 150,000 children during its two-year run at almost every Twin Cities-area school. Sponsors hope the program is picked up nationally as a fun way to prevent juvenile obesity.
"It's absolutely a comic adventure story," says Ward Eames, president and founder of National Theatre for Children, which is producing the play.
Anyone with an e-mail account is familiar with charity scams. Disasters these days seem to be followed almost immediately by online fundraising fraud, including the East Asian tsunami and Hurricane Katrina. The latest version is one that ties together the Sago (W.Va.) Mine disaster and West Virginia University Hospitals in Morgantown.
The bogus e-mails seek donations to ensure the full recovery of the lone survivor of the mine accident, Randal McCloy, who is being treated at WVU Hospitals. The e-mail purports to be-but isn't-from a WVU physician who asks for donations to ensure that the McCloy family has the financial wherewithal to ensure a complete recovery.
After several people contacted WVU about the e-mails, the hospital system contacted the FBI and its Internet Crime Complaint Center, which is investigating the scam.