Survey Documents

Health Clinic Failures

One health clinic officer told a caller describing botulism symptoms to go back to bed. Another told a caller describing signs of bubonic plague not to worry.

And not one of 19 public health clinics surveyed by Rand Corp. suggested isolating a patient whose face, arms and legs were said to be covered with pustules or other smallpox symptoms.

The Rand study, funded by the Department of Health and Human Services and released yesterday, describes a wide variety of response times and medical advice given to its researchers, who posed as doctors in telephone calls to unnamed clinics across the country in a test that stretched over nine months.

Overall, public health clinics responded to 91 percent of all calls within 30 minutes, the report noted. But some clinics failed to return calls for days, and others offered troubling medical guidance to people pretending to need help.

Of the clinics called about patients showing "pustules on the face, arms and legs with lesions in the same stage of development, none suggested isolation of the patient or advised the caller to use personal protective equipment," the Rand report found.

"Similarly, when presented with a case consistent with botulism, one action officer responded, 'You're right, it does sound like botulism. I wouldn't worry too much if I were you,' " the report found. "In response to classic symptoms of bubonic plague, the action officer told the caller not to worry and to 'go back to bed' because no similar cases had been reported that day."

FEC Asks Full Court to

Review Panel Ruling

The Federal Election Commission asked a full appeals court to reconsider a decision by a smaller appellate panel that had ordered the FEC to write tougher rules to carry out a 2002 campaign finance law.

The FEC could have taken the case to the Supreme Court but instead decided to first appeal to the full federal appeals court in Washington. Last month, a three-judge panel upheld U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly's 2004 decision striking down several FEC rules interpreting the new law.

The law, approved by Congress and signed by President Bush after years of fighting by its sponsors, bans congressional and presidential candidates and national party committees from raising corporate and union money in any amount and unlimited donations from any source.

The law also bars the use of corporate and union money for election-time ads, among other new limits.

Kollar-Kotelly struck down more than a dozen commission regulations that she said opened loopholes in the law. The law's sponsors, including Reps. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.) and Martin T. Meehan (D-Mass.) had sued to try to force the FEC to write stronger regulations.

U.S. Bows to Delay in

Talks With N. Korea

The Bush administration sidestepped North Korean complaints about military exercises and a human rights envoy and agreed to a delay in resuming talks on its nuclear weapons program.

In a gesture of good will, the administration again credited North Korea with taking a businesslike attitude toward the effort to halt the program in exchange for energy supplies and a U.S. promise not to attack.

"We are prepared to go back the week of September 12, and we are ready," said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack. The date for the six-party talks will be set by China and North Korea, McCormack said.

American and North Korean diplomats have been meeting periodically on the sidelines in New York to try to set the stage for adoption of a statement of principles designed to govern ending the weapons program. The last session was last week.

North Korea, in announcing it would delay its return to negotiations for two weeks, blamed U.S. joint military exercises with South Korea and the appointment of Jay Lefkowitz, a former adviser to President Bush, to shine a human rights spotlight in international settings on what the administration has called "the long-suffering North Korean people."

-- From News Services