Boy’s Parents, Doctors, Call for Early Recognition of Sepsis Symptoms

A consortium of 55 hospitals in the New York region has launched a campaign to aggressively identify sepsis for early treatment. Hospital administrators say the campaign is needed because sepsis, a leading cause of death in hospitals, can at first look like less serious ailments.

The new campaign was recently highlighted in a story published by the New York Times. The Times story focused on Rory Staunton, 12, who suffered what seemed like a minor cut on his arm while diving for a basketball during a gym class. The P.E. director at his school applied Band-aids to the cut, and Rory went about his normal routine. That night, he told his parents about the incident in the gym, did his homework and went to bed.

The next day, he started vomiting, spiked a high fever and reported pain in his leg. His parents brought him to a pediatrician, who referred him to the emergency room at NYU Langone Medical Center, where he was treated for upset stomach and dehydration. Doctors prescribed fluids and Tylenol and sent the boy home.

Three days later, Rory was dead. The cause was severe septic shock brought on by the infection, according to the Times.

Deaths like Rory Staunton’s have prompted doctors to call for an information campaign about the risk of sepsis. Many doctors view sepsis as a three-stage syndrome, starting with sepsis and progressing through severe sepsis to septic shock. The goal is to treat sepsis during its mild stage, before it becomes more dangerous.

To be diagnosed with sepsis, you must exhibit at least two of the following symptoms:

Fever above 101.3 F (38.5 C) or below 95 F (35 C).
Heart rate higher than 90 beats a minute.
Respiratory rate higher than 20 breaths a minute.
Probable or confirmed infection.

Three hours after being released from the hospital, when the Stauntons were at home, the hospital’s laboratory reported that Rory was producing vast quantities of cells that combat bacterial infection. This was a warning that the boy could have been experiencing sepsis.

Rory’s parents have called for more reporting about their son’s death, in the hopes that early recognition of sepsis symptoms could save lives. They have also hired a lawyer but have not decided how they will proceed.

Kreisman Law Offices has been handling hospital errors and misdiagnosis cases for more than 36 years in and around Chicago, Cook County, and surrounding areas, including Chicago’s Bridgeport neighborhood, Skokie, Calumet City, and Orland Park.

Related blog posts:

Chicago Advocate Hospital Settles for $14 Million in Childbirth Death of Mother – Lawson v. Advocate Health Hospitals Corp., et al.
Hospital, Doctor Pay $12 Million to Care for Child with Brain Damage

$790,000 Award For Patient Who Fell From Surgical Table After Epidural