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Doctors Sent Home Boy Who Died Of Septic Shock

Rory Staunton was a 12-year-old boy who was complaining of a stomach ache. His parents took Rory to the pediatrician and then to the emergency room. Doctors at NYU Langone Medical Center sent the family home with some medicine to soothe his stomach. Three days later, Rory died from septic shock. 

How Did a 12-Year-Old Boy With Sepsis Get Sent Home?

The boy from Queens had been playing basketball and got a cut on his arm while at school. Later that night, he began to vomit. The next day, Rory’s parents took him to the family doctor. The doctor found the boy had a high fever and severe leg pain. The doctor sent the boy to the ER to get fluids. After getting an IV, the boy was given anti-nausea medication and sent home. 

According to an article in the New York Times, critical test results were not communicated and observations were lost in the handoff of the boy’s care between the pediatrician and the emergency room. There may have also been evidence the doctors did not consider any alternative diagnosis or follow-up care.

While in the ER, the boy had a rapid blood pulse, high number of white blood cells, and low platelet count. These signs together could indicate a serious infection. However, the boy was sent home before the lab tests were completed. The parents were not even aware of the blood tests until they got a bill in the mail after the boy’s funeral.

According to a representative for the ER hospital, the hospital was “committed to learning from this event to prevent this or a similar situation from happening again.” 

Septic Shock in Children

Sepsis can be defined as a life-threatening organ dysfunction caused by the body’s inflammatory immune response to infection. Sepsis can cause tissue damage, organ damage, or death. Failure to properly diagnose or treat sepsis can lead to septic shock.

Septic shock is a type of distributive shock which is caused by the abnormal distribution of blood supply to the smallest blood vessels. When there is an inadequate blood supply to the major organs and body tissues, it sends the body into shock. Septic shock can lead to ischemia (restriction in blood supply to tissues), organ dysfunction, and death. 

Diagnostic tests may show signs of infection. There are a number of possible signs and symptoms of sepsis, including: 

  • Fever 
  • Chills
  • Low blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate or breathing 
  • Confusion 
  • Decreased urination

Pediatric Medical Malpractice

Children can be victims of medical malpractice when doctors fail to communicate findings, fail to take proper tests, and misdiagnose the patient. In a fatal accident, nothing can bring back a lost child. However, a wrongful death lawsuit may help other families avoid a similar loss. 

A wrongful death claim can identify the people who caused the fatal accident and hold them accountable for their actions. It may also help the hospital institute changes to prevent similar accidents in the future. The skilled medical malpractice attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian have helped Philadelphia families get compensation after dangerous malpractice. Contact our law office online or by calling (800) 529-6162.

About the Author

Briggs Bedigian
Briggs Bedigian

H. Briggs Bedigian (“Briggs”) is a founding partner of Gilman & Bedigian, LLC.  Prior to forming Gilman & Bedigian, LLC, Briggs was a partner at Wais, Vogelstein and Bedigian, LLC, where he was the head of the firm’s litigation practice.  Briggs’ legal practice is focused on representing clients involved in medical malpractice and catastrophic personal injury cases. 


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