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Video: What caused TV reporter’s on-air confusion?

  1. Transcript of: What caused TV reporter’s on-air confusion?

    MATT LAUER, co-host: Let us begin, though, this half-hour with that on-air scare for a reporter covering the Grammys for a CBS station out in Los Angeles . Now many are wondering what went wrong. Here's NBC 's Kristen Welker.

    Ms. SERENE BRANSON: And we did request an interview with Sheriff Baca tonight.

    KRISTEN WELKER reporting: Serene Branson is a seasoned reporter in Los Angeles , nominated for two Emmy Awards , but Sunday night something went terribly wrong.

    Ms. BRANSON: Well, a very, very

    heavy......we had a very......let's go

    ahead....

    WELKER: Branson was reporting live during the station's post- Grammy newscast. Her words seemed incoherent. The video was posted on YouTube and comments came pouring in online, many expressing concern. One read, "She needs to see a neurologist." Another, "This is very scary. She needs to get that checked out." Her station addressed the issue on air Monday.

    Unidentified Man: She was examined by paramedics on the scene immediately after her report. Her vital signs were normal, she wasn't hospitalized, and as a precautionary measure, a colleague gave her a ride home.

    WELKER: The station also said Branson went to the doctor Monday for follow-up tests. Medical experts say from what they've seen just watching the whole thing unfold on TV one thing is certain, the episode should be taken seriously.

    Dr. KEITH BLACK: This is what we call a classic neurological event. She was obviously aware that she was having difficulty.

    WELKER: Dr. Keith Black is the head of the department of neurosurgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center . Watching the video, he says in his opinion there are two possible causes, the first a transient ischemic attack , which is much like a temporary stroke.

    Dr. BLACK: The way to think about a TIA , you get a blockage in blood flow going to the brain.

    WELKER: The second possibility?

    Dr. BLACK: It could be a mini seizure located in the language area. A seizure can be caused by almost anything that can affect the brain from a brain tumor to infection.

    WELKER: Medical experts say the fact that there is video of the incident may actually help doctors determine a diagnosis.

    Unidentified Woman: Serene thanks everybody for their concern and good wishes and hopes to be back on the air very soon.

    WELKER: A wish that is no doubt shared by her colleagues and everyone who watches her. For TODAY, Kristen Welker, NBC News, Los Angeles .

    LAUER: Dr. Nancy Snyderman is NBC 's chief medical editor. Nancy , good morning to you.

    Dr. NANCY SNYDERMAN reporting: Hey, Matt.

    LAUER: You've seen that tape a bunch of times.

    SNYDERMAN: I have.

    LAUER: Now what immediately comes to your mind?

    SNYDERMAN: Well, when I first watched it, there was no doubt there was some kind of neurologic event. And if you have to rule out drugs and alcohol, which is easy to do right away not only because of her stellar history as a reporter. Now because you can see the right side of her face gets a little weak and then if you watch her eyes you can tell that she senses that something is not right. This is in real time what I would call a transient ischemic attack or a mild stroke, something has happened to the circuitry of her brain such that she cannot speak.

    LAUER: And I know you're concerned by another part of this story; so the station released a statement, we heard it, saying that she's OK, she was examined by paramedics.

    SNYDERMAN: Right.

    LAUER: Her vital signs were normal and she was given a ride home. You think she should have gone right to the hospital.

    SNYDERMAN: Yeah. And I should underscore that all of us who are weighing in haven't examined her, we can't make a diagnosis, but boy, those of us who are physicians can sure make a differential diagnosis, and the first thing is because of that, exactly what you said, she could have recovered and had perfectly normal neurologic function, normal vital signs and said, 'Fine, I'll go home on my own.' Not the right thing to do, you immediately go to the emergency room because this can be a harbinger of more things to come. It's not unlike a heart attack , you wouldn't send heart attack patient home.

    LAUER: But if she goes to the emergency room in a normal state...

    SNYDERMAN: Yeah.

    LAUER: ...what kinds of questions would doctors be asking her, what things would they be evaluating?

    SNYDERMAN: I would immediately say, 'Do you smoke, do you have diabetes, high blood pressure , are you on birth control pills, do you have a family history of this, has this ever happened to you before?' I would keep her overnight and observe her neurologically, check her every hour on the hour. And then she gets CT scans , MRI scans because you have to rule out a bleed, a clot, a brain tumor or other problems inside the brain.

    LAUER: If this is a TIA ...

    SNYDERMAN: Mm.

    LAUER: ...or transient ischemic attack ...

    SNYDERMAN: Ischemic attack. Mm-hmm.

    LAUER: ...does it make it more likely that she might have a stroke later in life?

    SNYDERMAN: Yes. All that TIA means is that there was something transient that blocked off the blood supply that altered the brain. But when that happens, even for five seconds, brain cells can die and it can mean further on in one's life you're set up. Now it's important, while people watch this, to remember that this is a classic sign of a neurologic event. Other things that can happen, right-sided weakness, slurred speech, the inability to communicate like she's having, problem walking, profound headache, which is one of the things that doctors will ask her. This is a neurologic event in real time .

    LAUER: Well, again, most importantly, she seems to be doing OK right now.

    SNYDERMAN: Right.

    LAUER: And our thoughts are with her. But it's scary.

    SNYDERMAN: And she's going to have a long-term relationship with a neurologist. This is not something that doctors say, 'Oh, well, I'm glad you're fine, you're OK.' She now...

    LAUER: Follow-ups.

    SNYDERMAN: ...is going to have a longer-term relationship, yeah.

    LAUER: Nancy , thanks very much.

    SNYDERMAN: You're welcome, Matt.

    LAUER: Appreciate it.

updated 2/15/2011 11:53:08 AM ET 2011-02-15T16:53:08

The CBS-TV station in Los Angeles says a reporter who spoke incoherently during a segment on the Grammy Awards is feeling fine.

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Serene Branson was checked by paramedics immediately after her Grammys report Sunday from outside the downtown Los Angeles arena where the awards where held, according to the station's website.

The young woman's vital signs were normal and she wasn't hospitalized, CBS said. A colleague took her home as a precaution and she said she was "feeling fine" Monday morning, according to the channel.

In her brief on-camera appearance Sunday night, Branson struggled to find words and sounded nonsensical.

According to the CBS website, Branson is a Los Angeles native who has worked as an Emmy-nominated reporter in Santa Barbara, Palm Springs and Sacramento and covered stories including politics, natural disasters and a convicted murderer's execution.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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