Jus­tice Gins­burg in hospi­tal af­ter frac­tur­ing 3 ribs

The Mercury News Weekend - - NEWS - By Mark Sher­man The As­so­ci­ated Press As­so­ci­ated Press writer Lauran Neergaard con­trib­uted to this re­port.da­tel

WASH­ING­TON » Eighty-fiveyear- old Supreme Court Jus­tice Ruth Bader Gins­burg frac­tured three ribs in a fall in her of­fice at the court and is in the hospi­tal, the court said Thurs­day.

The court’s oldest jus­tice fell Wed­nes­day evening, the court said. She called Supreme Court po­lice to take her to Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­sity Hospi­tal in Wash­ing­ton early Thurs­day af­ter ex­pe­ri­enc­ing dis­com­fort overnight, court spokes­woman Kathy Ar­berg said.

She was ad­mit­ted to the hospi­tal for treat­ment and ob­ser­va­tion af­ter tests showed she frac­tured three ribs.

In her ab­sence, the court went ahead Thurs­day with a court­room cer­e­mony wel­com­ing new Jus­tice Brett Ka­vanaugh, who joined the court last month. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and new act­ing At­tor­ney Gen­eral Matthew Whi­taker were on hand.

Gins­burg has had a se­ries of health prob­lems. She broke two ribs in a fall in 2012. She has had two prior bouts with cancer and had a stent im­planted to open a blocked artery in 2014. She also was hos­pi­tal­ized af­ter a bad re­ac­tion to medicine in 2009.

But she has never missed Supreme Court ar­gu­ments. The court won’t hear ar­gu­ments again un- til Nov. 26.

Rib frac­tures are com­mon among older adults, par­tic­u­larly af­ter falls. The sever­ity de­pends in part on whether the ribs are cracked or bro­ken all the way through, and how many are bro­ken. The ex­tent of Gins­burg’s in­jury was not clear.

A com­plete break re­quires mak­ing sure the two ends are in align­ment, so that a sharp piece of bone doesn’t punc­ture nearby blood ves­sels or or­gans. Bro­ken ribs typ­i­cally heal on their own in six weeks to a month, and pa­tients are ad­vised to limit stren­u­ous ac­tiv­ity. But they can be very painful and con­trol­ling pain is key. A chief com­pli­ca­tion is pneu­mo­nia, when pa­tients don’t breathe deeply enough or cough enough be­cause of the rib pain.

Ap­pointed by Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton in 1993, Gins­burg re­buffed sug­ges­tions from some lib­er­als that she should step down in the first two years of Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s sec­ond term, when Democrats also con­trolled the Se­nate and would have been likely to con­firm her suc­ces­sor.

She al­ready has hired clerks for the term that ex­tends into 2020, in­di­cat­ing she has no plans to re­tire.

Gins­burg leads the court’s lib­eral wing.

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