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When the system fails a child

Chris James

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This has to be the saddest story I have read this year, although there are too many like this.


A teacher failed to apply simple first aid properly...should have washed the wound and called the nurse. The emergency room should have taken a swab of the wound and checked for infection. Good medical procedures could have prevented this death. How very sad.

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I'd never heard of sepsis before reading this article. That a kid can die from a cut is really frightening and like Chris said, very sad!

When I was in high school we always thought it was weird that no matter how small a cut or scrape we got in PE, we'd be sent to see the nurse. The only problem is the nurse could only give external medication. So if someone had a deep cut or a large scrape the nurse would call an ambulance and they'd be taken to the hospital. To us that always seemed stupid for two reasons:

1) "It's only a little cut!" but that didn't impress the nurse because it probably wasn't that little.

2) Kaiser Hospital was right across the street from my high school. Okay, across the street and a half a block north. Still, we could walk and be there faster than waiting for the ambulance to arrive at school. But, no way, we'd have to wait.

After reading this article about what happened to this 12-year-old boy, I see why that was probably a good procedure for my high school to follow.  Of course, in this boy's case the ER screwed up, too.

Colin  :icon_geek:

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Chris -

Thank you for the posting. Sadly it's not that rare to find patients woefully mistreated in schools, hospitals, or anywhere else a bad happenstance takes place. I spent my first three years after college working as an EMT-A in a small town rural setting, and have been a part of the good, bad, and ugly brew which is "emergency medicine". Stories? Oh yeah. Many. But it's infinitely better now than, say, 50 or 60 years ago when funeral homes provided the service and their hearses were the ambulances. That doesn't mean it doesn't have a long way to go.

Colin is right that there's plenty of blame to go around: coach, doctor, school district, hospital. Perhaps people have learned something. I even wonder if anybody thought to do a culture at the site where the boy was hurt in the first place to see what could be lurking there still.

But I hate to put too much "blame" on folks who may have been doing their best. A two-bandaid cut doesn't seem like much in an active boy's life. The issue with "referred pain" can fool even the most learned doctor. Failure to follow up on a stat blood culture? That's more serious and seems a violation of normal protocol. Want to bet there was a shift change in there?

The story is an ugly one with no real solution. But we can hope that there have been lessons learned. And we can pray for Rory's family.

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