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Hospital Admits Emergency Room Errors Led to Irish Boy’s Death

After drawing fire from the New York Times and NBC’s Today Show, a New York hospital finally admitted to making fatal mistakes in its treatment of a young Irish boy by their emergency room staff. It appears that poor communication by staff within the hospital may have ultimately been responsible for the boy’s early discharge and subsequent death. The boy, who was the son of Irish immigrants, sought treatment at the hospital after complaining of a stomach virus. Despite running a series of tests on the boy’s blood, ER staff misinterpreted his symptoms as being merely a stomach virus and prematurely discharged the boy. The boy’s symptoms were actually much more serious. Had medical staff examined the boys’ lab reports, they would have discovered a white blood cell count nearly five times higher than that of a healthy person. The boy was actually suffering from an extreme but treatable bacterial infection contracted after scratching his elbow while playing basketball. The lab tests would have signaled an immediate red flag for the nurses and doctors in the ER. Instead, their rush to get to the next patient cost the young boy his life. He later died due to acute form of septicemia known as Toxic Shock Syndrome. Hopefully, the boy’s death will not be in vain. In a statement to the press, the hospital announced an immediate change in policy that will include instant notification of hospital staff anytime lab results suggest a serious infection. In addition, the hospital created an new Discharge Checklist to ensure doctors and nurses have reviewed all vital signs and lab reports prior to discharging a patient. Medical experts described this case as a perfect example of the need for doctors to keep an open mind. Others suggested that the boy’s death could have serious implications for the future of patient care. Source: www.irishcentral.com, “Vindication for Irish family as NYU Hospital admits errors in treatment of Rory Staunton,” James O’Shea, 19 July 2012

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