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Mystery Fumes From Patient Fell Doctor, Two Nurses

February 21, 1994

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) _ Baffling fumes that sickened a doctor and two nurses and forced a hospital emergency room to close apparently came from the body of a patient, authorities said.

The medical workers remained hospitalized today. One nurse was in serious condition with respiratory trouble.

The patient, 31-year-old Gloria Ramirez, died shortly after a doctor and nurse at Riverside General Hospital drew blood from her Saturday night and passed out.

The pair had noticed white crystals in her blood and smelled a substance like ammonia, doctors said.

The emergeny room was evacuated, and reopened Sunday morning. Four other medical staff members were treated and released.

Ramirez had been receiving home chemotherapy treatments for cancer. Her body was isolated until officials learn more about the case, Deputy Coroner Alan Wesefeldt said.

″It appears to be something coming from the body itself,″ Wesefeldt said. ″We are trying to get background before we approach the body. We don’t want to put more people at risk.″

Doctors treating the ill doctor said they suspected possible poisoning from an organo phosphate, an ingredient common to an insecticide or pesticide.

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