Letters: Radiology Dangers, AIDS, Charon

Steve Inskeep and Renee Montagne read from listener reactions to stories on the dangers of radiology procedures, coverage of AIDS, questions about James Frey's memoir and the correct pronunciation of Pluto's moon Charon.

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A lot of you responded to our report on errors in radiology treatment. Sue Hazelwood is a radiology technologist in New Orleans. She says we identified a little-known danger for the millions of patients receiving intravenous iodine for some x-ray and CAT scan studies. What was apparent in your coverage is how often the onus is on the patient to be aware of the danger and to speak up.


That story also brought this letter from David Lindquist, a doctor in Providence, Rhode Island. He writes, I felt your story on so-called errors from CAT scans glossed over important clarifications. While the term error is used in the reporting of medical events, it may include adverse reactions that were not preventable, not simply foreseeable mistakes in judgment. Lumping these categories together, he says, improperly exaggerates the situation and raises unwarranted anxiety.

MONTAGNE: Listener Twinkle(ph) Nelson of Atlanta, Georgia, got a chuckle out of our story on the accuracy of online direction services. She writes, being directionally challenged, I decided to look at MapQuest myself, before giving directions to our weekend home on Lake Nottely in the North Georgia Mountains. Good thing. MapQuest clearly says turn right on McClure Branch Road. That road has actually been under water since the early 1940's, when the TVA dammed the Nottely River to create our lake.

INSKEEP: We have a correction this morning for a story about Judge Samuel Alito's Senate Confirmation hearings. We reported on questions about his failure to recuse himself from a case involving Vanguard Mutual Funds, a company we said, in which he held significant amounts of stock. We should have said that Alito held shares of Vanguard mutual funds, not stock in the company itself.

MONTAGNE: And we reported last week that some of the facts in James Frey's enormously popular memoir about addiction called A Million Little Pieces were being challenged. Claudia Horner offered these thoughts, we all would do well to remember first and foremost that, Frey is an addict, whether clean or not. And addicts are not known for truthfulness. Even so, his book resonates with deep truths about addiction, and I found it deeply illuminating. I think we should accept his book as the memoir of an addict, period.

INSKEEP: Finally, some of you were concerned about a very particular fact, the way that we pronounce the name of one of Pluto's moons, which is spelled C-h-a-r-o-n. We said Sharon, although space guys, like the person we heard in the story, emphasize both syllables equally as Share-on. But listeners like Patrick Ivers in Laramie, Wyoming write, it's actually Care-on.

MONTAGNE: To settle the matter, we called Geoff Chester at the U.S. Naval Observatory here in Washington. It was there that astronomer Jim Christy first discovered the moon in 1978.

Mr. GEOFF CHESTER (U.S. Naval Observatory): Christy decided that he wanted to name it Charon, as he pronounced it, who is the ferryman in Greek mythology, who rode the souls of people across the River Styx into Pluto's domain. Now, proper Greek pronunciation should technically be pronounced Care-on, but since Jim Christy's wife was named Charlene, he kind of decided that it would be a nice homage to her, and most people probably wouldn't know the difference.

INSKEEP: We do now, and if there's anything else you'd like cleared up, just let us know. Go to NPR.org, and click on Contact Us.

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