Otto Van Ripper, 19 years old, of 262 Tenth street, was sent to the Kingston Avenue Hospital for Contagious Diseases as a scarlet fever patient by the Board of Health, three weeks ago, against the protest of the youth's physician, Dr. Walter T. Slevin, of 386 Union street, who maintained then, and still maintains, that the patient is not suffering from scarlet fever, but from blood poisoning.
One of the Health Department's diagnosticians was sent to determine on the boy's illness after an ambulance surgeon of the Kings County Hospital had refused to remove the patient from his home to the hospital. The ambulance surgeon said the boy had scarlet fever, and the diagnostician sent by the Health Department upheld him. Dr. Slevin, who had attended the boy for blood poisoning, protested against sending him to the hospital for contagious disease, declaring that he knew more about the case than the diagnostician, who saw him only once, and that blood poisoning wae the only ailment of the patient.
The boy is the main support of his mother and sister. Over two months ago, while at his work, he stuck a nail in his hand and blood poisoning followed. Dr. Slevin treated him for several weeks and when he was apparently cured he went back to work. In a few days the wound broke out afresh and Dr. Slevin was again called in. From this time on young Van Ripper would work a few days and then come home with a high fever. Dr. Slevin determined to have him sent to the Kings County Hospital. The authorities were notified and an ambulance was sent to remove the boy to the hospital.
When the ambulance surgeon arrived at the house, according to Dr. Slevin, he noticed that the patient's skin had begun to peel, and without further examination declared it to be a case of scarlet fever, refused to take the lad away and notified the crowd gathered outside that it had better disperse because there was a contagious disease in the house.
This part of the history of the case is corroborated by Van Ripper's mother, who said:
"The ambulance surgeon would not look at my son's throat or go near him, declaring he was afraid he might contract the disease himself. He made a great deal of unnecessary noise about it, when he returned to the street, calling out to his driver that it was a case of-scarlet fever, and adding, 'He guessed he was not taking cases of that kind.'
"My son had been at his work the day before and ate heartily at all his meals. He started for his work that morning but was obliged to return, home. I then summoned Dr. Slevin, who advised his removal to the Kings County Hospital.
"Later the health officers arrived, and they, too, declared it to be a case of scariet fever, and took him away. I have visited him since and have received letters from him."
Dr. Slevin is firm in his opinion his diagnosis was right. He declared yesterday that he had tried to have the case examined into without meeting with any success.
"I personally called on Dr. T.L. Fogarty, assistant sanitary inspector, in charge of Brooklyn, but could not obtain any satisfaction." he said. "I then went to Dr. Roherts, at the Health Department in Manhattan, and received the promise that the case would be investigated."
"Later I received a letter from Dr. Roberts which was not at all satisfactory, and I replied to the same, but have heard nothing further. I intend that this case shall be thoroughly gone into."
Dr. Fogarty said to-day:
"I remember that about three weeks ago Dr. Slevin called on me and told me about the Van Ripper case. I told the ddctor he could go into the hospital and examine the boy himself. I called up the superintendent of the hospital and told him to admit Dr. Slevin if he called. The doctor seemed to be satisfied. He left my office and I have not heard from him since.
"All I know about the case is that when we received word from an ambulance surgeon of the Kings County Hospital we sent one of our diagnosticians to examine the case. He reported that the boy had scarlet fever, and, of course, we sent him to the Kingston Avenue Hospital."
Dr. Fogarty was asked if it was possible for one of the diagnosticians of the Health Department to mistake a case of blood poisoning for scarlet fever. He replied:
"For a competent physician, scarlet fever is easily diagnosed. It cannot be mistaken for blood poisoning bv a competent physician. This Van Ripper boy, I undprstand, had had local blood poisoning in one of his hands but that had been cured."
Brooklyn (New York) Daily Eagle, December 11, 1905.