Justice Ginsburg in hospital overnight
WASHINGTON - Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who had cancer surgery earlier this year, was kept at a hospital overnight Wednesday after she became drowsy and fell from her seat aboard an airplane. Court officials blamed a reaction to medicine.
It was the second time Ginsburg, 76, has been hospitalized in the last month. She was taken to a hospital on Sept. 24 after falling ill at her Supreme Court office.
Ginsburg was taken to Washington Hospital Center around 11:15 p.m. Wednesday by paramedics and was released yesterday morning, court officials said.
Ginsburg, along with Chief Justice John Roberts and justices Stephen Breyer and Antonin Scalia, was heading to London to take part in ceremonies marking the opening of Britain’s new Supreme Court.
“Prior to the plane taking off, the justice experienced extreme drowsiness, causing her to fall from her seat,’’ a court statement said. “Paramedics were called, and the justice was taken to the Washington Hospital Center as a precaution.’’
The statement said doctors attributed Ginsburg’s symptoms to a reaction caused by the combination of a prescription sleeping aid and an over-the-counter cold medicine.
Ginsburg’s health has been watched closely since her second cancer surgery in February.
She had surgery in 1999 for colon cancer and received radiation and chemotherapy. On Feb. 5, doctors removed a small malignant growth from Ginsburg’s pancreas. Doctors found no spread of it elsewhere, the court said. Her spleen also was removed.
In September, Ginsburg became lightheaded after receiving treatment for anemia, a common side effect of pancreatic cancer chemotherapy. Although she was found to be stable after an examination, the court said she was taken to the hospital by ambulance as a precaution and released the next day.
She returned to the court quickly and has not missed a day of work since. In March she said the operation had been “a complete, successful, surgical removal’’ of the cancer. She also said she was to undergo chemotherapy treatment.
Mixing sleeping pills and cold medicines can be doubly sedating, depending on the cold medicine’s ingredients.
After the retirement in January 2006 of Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, Ginsburg was the only woman on the nine-member court until Sonia Sotomayor joined in August.