In Washington Doctors seek to cut unneeded CT scans in...

NATIONAL DIGEST

October 29, 2002

In Washington

Doctors seek to cut unneeded CT scans in children by a third

Emergency room specialists have developed the first guidelines to evaluate children with head injuries, a step that could reduce unnecessary CT scans by a third. Doctors are trying to curb the skyrocketing use of CT scans in children because they produce far more radiation than X-rays, and children absorb far higher doses than adults.

"Just because a procedure's available doesn't mean it's necessary for your child," adds Dr. Shireen Atabaki of Children's National Medical Center in Washington, who led the new head-injury research.

Several universities are planning a larger study to confirm Atabaki's guidelines. While that research continues, parents should ask doctors whether a CT scan is the best exam for their child - and if the answer is yes, then ask whether the scanner will be adjusted to a child's dose, doctors advise.

Bush signs law to quicken review of medical products

President Bush signed legislation yesterday that requires manufacturers of medical devices to pay user fees in return for speedier government review of their products.

Under the law, manufacturers of devices such as pacemakers and MRI machines will pay a little more than $25 million in fees in the next year. In exchange, the government will hire more people and improve review practices to allow for speedier scrutiny.

The bill's congressional sponsors said the new process was necessary because the Food and Drug Administration lacks adequate resources, and the regulatory process unnecessarily slows delivery of too many devices.

In The Nation

U.S. judge orders release of Calif. fraud case files

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - A federal judge ordered the release yesterday of documents from a decade-old fraud and racketeering case in which a convicted felon implicated Gov. Gray Davis in a bribery scheme. The order comes a week before voters go to the polls to choose between Davis and Republican Bill Simon.

Former Coastal Commissioner Mark Nathanson named Davis in two letters he submitted to prosecutors in 1993 as part of an unsuccessful attempt to cut a more favorable deal after pleading guilty to racketeering, tax fraud and soliciting bribes.

Prosecutors said Nathanson solicited money from celebrities and others in exchange for help getting projects approved by the powerful commission.

Bishop says he knew priest supported man-boy sex

BOSTON - The man who is now bishop of New York's Brooklyn Diocese said in a sworn statement made public yesterday that he knew the Rev. Paul Shanley endorsed sex between men and boys when he promoted him two decades ago to head a Boston-area parish.

At the time, Thomas V. Daily was chancellor, vicar general and auxiliary bishop in the Boston Archdiocese. Daily promoted Shanley to administrator and acting pastor at St. Jean's parish in Newton, Mass. Shanley, 71, is one of the priests at the center of the sex scandal engulfing the archdiocese. He was indicted in June on charges of raping or otherwise molesting boys while he was at St. Jean's.

Under questioning, Daily said he had not received any reports of Shanley engaging in abuse. Daily gave the testimony in August for lawsuits filed by three men who claim they were sexually abused by Shanley at St. Jean's.

Judge halts sonic blasts, saying they harm whales

SAN FRANCISCO - A federal judge ordered the National Science Foundation yesterday to stop firing sound blasts into the Gulf of California because they harm whales.

U.S. District Judge James Larsen sided with conservationists who said sound blasts used to map the ocean floor have disrupted marine life in the ocean between Baja California and mainland Mexico. Larsen ordered such aspects of a $1.6 million research project to end immediately.

The Center for Biological Diversity asked the court last week to stop the research, saying two dead whales found on the Mexican coast last month probably beached themselves because of noise from air guns aboard the government vessel. Government lawyers argued environmentalists had proved no connection between the beached whales and noise from the air guns.

Van runs into buggy in Pa., injuring 7 in Amish family

HOLTWOOD, Pa. - A van plowed into a horse and buggy on a two-lane bridge over the Susquehanna River in Holtwood, Pa., late Sunday, critically injuring six members of an Amish family, including five children, and seriously injuring a seventh. All seven were thrown from the buggy, and the horse was killed, state police said yesterday.

Authorities identified the injured as Ben Ebersol and Annie Ebersol, 35, and children Andrew, 11, Daniel, 9, John, 7, Sarah, 4, and Ben Jr., 3, all of Airville. Authorities did not say how the victims were related.

The children and the senior Ben Ebersol remained in critical condition yesterday at Hershey Medical Center. Annie Ebersol was in serious condition at Lancaster General Hospital, said hospital officials.

Attorney for Robert Blake quits over TV interviews

LOS ANGELES - Harland Braun, the lawyer who has represented Robert Blake since his wife was shot to death last year, announced his resignation yesterday, saying he objected to the actor's decision to grant a jailhouse interview to ABC's Diane Sawyer.

"I think it's insane for a person charged with a crime to go on camera to answer questions about the case," said Braun. "No lawyer in the country would allow a defendant to do this." It is up to the judge presiding over the Blake case to decide whether to let Braun resign.

The interview request was being reviewed by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, but such requests are usually denied for security and logistics reasons, spokesman Darren Harris said. An interview requires written permission from the inmate and the inmate's attorney of record, he said. Blake is charged with murder in the killing of his wife, Bonny Lee Bakley, last year outside a restaurant where they had dined.

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