Elderly US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg hospitalised after fall at court

Eighty-five-year-old US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg fractured three ribs in a fall in her office at the court and is in the hospital, the court said today.

The injury means she will not be present for Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s investiture after he survived sexual assault claims. Source: Breakfast

The court's oldest justice fell yesterday, the court said. She called Supreme Court police to take her to George Washington University Hospital in Washington after experiencing discomfort overnight, court spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said.

She was admitted to the hospital for treatment and observation after tests showed she fractured three ribs.

In her absence, the court went ahead today with a courtroom ceremony welcoming new Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who joined the court last month. President Donald Trump and new acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker were on hand.

Ginsburg has had a series of health problems. She broke two ribs in a fall in 2012. She has had two prior bouts with cancer and had a stent implanted to open a blocked artery in 2014. She also was hospitalized after a bad reaction to medicine in 2009.

President Barack Obama greets Associate Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg before he addresses a joint session of Congress on Tuesday, February 24, 2009, in the House of Representatives Chamber of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC.  (Photo by Chuck Kennedy/MCT/MCT via Getty Images)
President Barack Obama greets Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Source: Getty

But she has never missed Supreme Court arguments. The court won't hear arguments again until Nov. 26.

Rib fractures are common among older adults, particularly after falls. The severity depends in part on whether the ribs are cracked or broken all the way through, and how many are broken. The extent of Ginsburg's injury was not clear.

A complete break requires making sure the two ends are in alignment, so that a sharp piece of bone doesn't puncture nearby blood vessels or organs. Broken ribs typically heal on their own in six weeks to a month, and patients are advised to limit strenuous activity. But they can be very painful and controlling pain is key. A chief complication is pneumonia, when patients don't breathe deeply enough or cough enough because of the rib pain.

Pres. Bill Clinton (L) strolling WH colonnade w. Supreme Court Justice nominee Ruth Bader Ginsburg.  (Photo by Cynthia Johnson/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images)
Former US President Bill Clinton and Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Source: Getty

Appointed by President Bill Clinton in 1993, Ginsburg rebuffed suggestions from some liberals that she should step down in the first two years of President Barack Obama's second term, when Democrats also controlled the Senate and would have been likely to confirm her successor.

She already has hired clerks for the term that extends into 2020, indicating she has no plans to retire.

Ginsburg leads the court's liberal wing.

LONG BEACH, CA - OCTOBER 26:  Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg attends California first lady Maria Shriver's annual Women's Conference 2010 on October 26, 2010 at the Long Beach Convention Center in Long Beach, California. Attendees to the conference include Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and candidates for California Governor Republican Meg Whitman and Democrat Jerry Brown.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Source: Getty