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Daily Rounds: The FDA's Caustic Whistleblower; Mothering A Disabled Boy; Tainted Platelet Risk; Sharks In Truro

Caustic Crusader At Center Of FDA Spy Scandal (The New York Times) — "Dr. Smith — radiologist, lawyer, litigant and the man now at the center of a spying scandal at the F.D.A. — is in some ways typical of that peculiar Washington phenomenon known as the whistle-blower: He pressed charges of government abuse, battled with his bosses, and ultimately was shown the door amid lawsuits and investigations. But he took his role to an extreme, according to former colleagues, scorning negotiations, making enemies of critics and papering Washington with complaints, which helped sow chaos at the agency. One co-worker compared his efforts to “a mutiny.” This month, F.D.A. officials came under fire from Congress after disclosures that they had begun a surveillance operation monitoring the e-mail of Dr. Smith and four other employees as they wrote to their lawyers, lawmakers and even President Obama. Dr. Smith’s scorched-earth tactics had so unnerved managers that they, too, resorted to extreme measures, and the monitors ended up producing a sort of enemies list of 21 agency critics, including Congressional officials, academics and journalists."

What My Son's Disabilities Taught Me About Having it All (The Atlantic) — "While our friends worry about the quality of middle schools, our parental duties include bringing our son to the ER to get stitches after he puts his head through a window, then arranging for a window replacement and for a special treatment for all the glass in our house so it won't shatter — at a pretty penny. Other friends declare, "I couldn't do what you do." If I am to conform to their expectations, I'm not sure what I am supposed to do: Beat my son? Kill myself? (Sadly, parents with kids like my son have done exactly that.) Maybe it's my Buddhist outlook, but I'm not consumed with worry and frenzy and despair like I'm "supposed" to be. I don't enjoy that my 12-year-old son is still in diapers and sometimes purposely makes a mess in the bathroom. Or that he dumped his Thanksgiving dinner on my sister-in-law's pregnant belly. Or that he screams in the parking lot of Whole Foods until people call the cops on us. On the other hand, he is my son, and he is what I have. And he has a nice smile."

The Biggest Blood Supply Risk: Tainted Platelets (The Wall Street Journal) — "A growing number of studies show that standard tests performed by blood banks before they ship platelets to hospitals miss the majority of contaminated platelets. Unlike other blood components such as red cells, which are refrigerated, platelets must be stored at room temperature to remain effective, but during storage periods that last up to five days bacteria can grow and multiply. About 150 hospitals have adopted a new contamination test, made by Verax Biomedical Inc., that can be administered immediately before patients get a transfusion. Initially approved by the Food and Drug Administration in 2007, one barrier is cost: It adds about $25 to $30 to the average $540 cost of a unit of platelets. The infection risk from platelets beats that of HIV and hepatitis C, researchers say, since advances in testing and screening have all but eliminated the risk of contracting those viral infections through donated blood. The federal government is stepping up scrutiny: A congressional committee has asked the FDA to determine what further actions should be taken to reduce the risks and spread awareness among hospitals."

Truro Police: Shark Bites Man's Ankle At Ballston Beach (The Boston Globe) — "A man was apparently bitten on the ankle by a shark while swimming at Ballston Beach in Truro this afternoon, police said. The injury is not believed to be life-threatening. The man swam to shore and was taken from the beach to Cape Cod Hospital after a 911 call came in about 3:30 p.m., said dispatcher Martha Wheeler of Truro police. Wheeler said witnesses reported seeing a shark fin, but police could not confirm its presence. The beach, which is part of the Cape Cod National Seashore, remains open, Wheeler said."

This program aired on July 31, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.

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