Medicine: Breath of Death

A hospital uses laughing gas for oxygen

The patient in the shiny new emergency ward of Suburban General Hospital in Norristown, Pa., inexplicably began to turn blue last month while presumably breathing oxygen. To his horror, Dr. Leonard Becker discovered that the tube labeled OXYGEN was actually pumping nitrous oxide to his patient. After a preliminary investigation, hospital authorities last week admitted that mislabeled pipe connections for the anesthetic gas "may have" caused as many as five deaths in the hospital since Suburban opened its wing almost eight months ago. In all,...

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