Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Boy treated and released from hospital dies of septic shock

Doctors and nurses providing the bare minimum while conducting tasks at a hospital would generally not be considered adequate care. A failure to follow a safety checklist or not communicating medical information can result in the injury or death of a patient.

This was especially true concerning the case of a 12-year old boy cutting his arm while playing basketball. The boy began vomiting later that evening, and he was experiencing pain to the legs. Rather than take the time to review all vital information concerning his case, the boy was instead sent home after being provided intravenous liquids and drugs to combat his nausea.

Three days later, the boy died from septic shock. It's now too late to know if he his condition could have been successfully treated at the time that he entered the emergency room. Yet the boy's case is now being used as a learning tool for other hospitals to make certain the same mistakes do not occur again.

It seems that a blood test result was not forwarded on to the boy's physician that could have helped in diagnosing the problem. Also, reports by a pediatrician that had first seen the boy never came to the attention of his medical providers. The pediatrician discovered that the boy's skin was mottling, which can indicate the failure of the organs.

The boy's parents did not learn about the presence of the blood test until sometime after the boy's funeral. The alarming results of this blood test were time-stamped three hours after the boy had left the hospital.

Attorneys practicing in the medical malpractice area understand the importance of medical protocol. Without treatment checklists present and being followed, too many clues to a patient's condition can be lost. Though hopefully hospitals will learn from what happened with this boy, this was an incident that could easily have been avoided through better communication.

Source: The New York Times, "Death of a Boy Prompts New Medical Efforts Nationwide," by Jim Dwyer, Oct. 25, 2012

  • For questions about misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose, please read our Pittsburgh Medical Malpractice website.

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