Every once in a while you hear a story that is so sad it takes your breath away. Such is the case in the story of 12-year-old Rory Staunton of New York City, documented by a reporter who knew him personally in the New York Times article titled “An Infection, Unnoticed, Turns Unstoppable.” http://goo.gl/mLod9
There are lessons there for all parents about our role in making sure doctors and hospitals share information fully and right away.
Rory died of an infection that rushed through his bloodstream and overwhelmed his defenses before emergency room doctors or his pediatrician understood what they were dealing with. He died within days of a simple, very typical kid injury.
He scraped his skin when he slid along a floor diving for a basketball. What followed was pain -- not surprising -- but then fever, diarrhea, fast heart rate and very abnormal blood pressure.
This unfolded slowly at first and resulted in a call to the family pediatrician. Prudently she asked the family to go to the NYU Langone Medical Center ER.
The doctors decided it was nothing serious and sent the boy home. Blood test results were pending and although Rory's vital signs showed ominous indications, no one caught it.
A doctor had decided it wasn't serious. That was it.
The blood test results came back and were indicative of a serious and virulent infection. No one told the family, no one told the pediatrician.
Rory was just recovering from something less serious, right? His parents were advised to stay the course.
Finally they went back to the ER. But by then the infection had the upper hand. And efforts in the ICU could not catch up.
What does this tell us?
First, as we say all the time, whether for yourself or a loved one, you MUST ask probing questions. Of course we want a doctor to tell us a concern is nothing serious. But we need to challenge them.
What if it is serious, how would we know and how would we proceed?
What should we look for and who needs to know and how fast?