A Cloud of Smoke

| September 17, 2008

Through a pathology listserv someone posted some comments to a story that appeared recently in The New Yorker entitled "A Cloud of Smoke".  The story brings attention to the death of James Zadroga,  New York City Homicide detective who died several years after working at Ground Zero and the subsequent political turmoil associated with opinions about his autopsy findings from several different pathologists.

The comments on the listserv call out the primary pathologist who performed the autopsy and felt his death was related to the events and subsequent time spent at Ground Zero. 

The story appears to support the opinion that his death was in fact related to his time spent at Ground Zero while the findings of the New York City Medical Examiner are contrary to that opinion.

Nonetheless, the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act is still making its way through Congress. 

This ongoing story illustrates the political pressure that comes with being a big city medical examiner and the responsibilities people in those positions have to their patients and the public health.

I saw this first hand as a medical student during the 1995 heat wave in Chicago and the subsequent finger pointing and blame between the mayor and the medical examiner of Chicago. 

I gather there will be more stories such as this one and more ensuing battles about cause and effect and cause of death for years to come and continued scrutiny of these cases for our forensic pathology colleagues.

Category: General Healthcare News

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