A physician who went a step beyond the routine and expected while conducting a medical exam in the UNM Hospital Emergency Room is being honored at UNM.

Paul Roth M.D, Executive Vice President for Health Sciences at the University of New Mexico, has declared Friday, April 25, 2008 as “Dr. Lena Perger Day.” Dr. Perger is to be presented with a plaque at UNM Surgical Grand Rounds at 8 a.m. on Friday.

The work that won Dr. Perger honors is the result of an exam on a colleague. In January, Department of Neurosciences Professor Dr. Michael Wilson lost consciousness and fell, hitting his head and receiving chemical burns. He was taken to the UNM Hospital Emergency Room where, as part of his assessment, a routine chest X-ray was ordered. A review of the chest X-ray by UNM surgery resident Lena Perger, M.D. concluded that a widened mediastinum was present.

Dr. Perger did not limit her assessment to the presenting burn injury but continued her work-up to discover a Type A aortic dissection in Dr. Wilson. It is believed that Perger likely saved Wilson’s life, as this previously undetected condition can be fatal. Wilson has since successfully completed surgery for his condition.

“The type of due diligence provided by Dr. Perger is the hallmark of what the UNM School of Medicine’s training seeks to instill in all physicians. Dr. Wilson’s heart condition had nothing to do with his immediate injuries, but Dr. Perger’s thoroughness likely saved his life,” Roth said in declaring April 25 as Lena Perger Day. “Dr. Perger’s example is a reminder to physicians throughout the HSC of how the thoroughness of any one examination can have far-reaching consequences for all our patients and colleagues.”


Contact: Cindy Foster, 272-3322