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The Death of Rory Staunton: When Parents Know Better Than Doctors

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The parents of 11-year-old Rory Staunton are beginning to question how their son died of septic shock after suffering a simple cut to his arm during basketball practice. Rory, whose family lives in Queens, NY, was sent home from the NYU Langone Medical Center emergency room after his visit on March 29th and quickly died just days after.

Rory's sad story began on March 28 at basketball practice when he suffered a simple cut to his arm. It was a small cut that went unnoticed until Rory mentioned it to his mother in passing that night. By midnight, Rory was throwing up and had a fever of 104 degrees. The next morning, Rory's mother took the boy to the pediatrician's office and the doctor told the boy and his mother that his fever and throwing up did not have to do with the cut and recommended that Rory go to the emergency room. Rory's mother noted that the boy's skin turned blotchy when pressed on; a sign of sepsis. The pediatrician also took note of this and sent the boy along to the emergency room. Unfortunately, NYU Langone Medical Center doctors diagnosed Rory with the flu and sent him home just two hours later. But things only got worse that night.

By the next morning, the skin around Rory's nose had turned blue and he screamed in pain just from a simple touch. Rory's parents called the pediatrician again and she suggested fluids and crackers, but to also return to the emergency room. Rory died shortly after arriving at NYU Langone Medical Center in the intensive care unit on April 1 from septic shock. Since the incident, Rory's parents have released a statement:

Our beloved son Rory was the light of our lives. He should never have died. It is clear to us he did not receive the basic standard of care which would have saved him and which he, as an innocent child, above all, had a right to expect. Our beloved boy is gone but we want to ensure that no other family experiences the utter heartbreak and grief we have because of such substandard care. NYU hospital and its Emergency Room were in turn extremely negligent in their treatment of Rory. Signs of serious illness were ignored and Rory was allowed leave the hospital desperately ill. Rory's pediatrician continued the following day, despite our appeals, to dismiss our concerns. We believe NYU hospital and Rory's pediatrician should acknowledge their negligent treatment of him to the Staunton family, treatment that we believe resulted in his death. They owe it to Rory and the children who will come after him, to ensure that this never happens again.

Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) is a severe form of sepsis which results when the normal streptococcus pyogenes bacteria enters the blood or soft tissue and causes infection. It is a common cause of death in hospitals and parents can learn more at the Mayo Clinic website for signs of sepsis in children. However, Dr. Scott Weingart, the co-chair of the STOP Sepsis Collaborative, also notes that sepsis this severe is rare.

2 Comments

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  1. JustThink says:
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    The parents concerns were dismissed? The mother if she was concerned after leaving the ER she should have taken him somewhere else. I think NYU may have been a little quick to judgement, however a teen with a scrape fever and vomiting? Not sure would place a correlation there.

  2. Concerned Nurse says:
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    Well there *might* not be a correlation between a simple scrape and a mild fever…but when you add the skin symptoms in with the high fever, it should have been a major clue that it was systemic–therefore any portal of entry should have been examined carefully as a source of the fever AND any child with a systemic infection should have been immediately hospitalized at least overnight. Anyone that has ever taken a PALS class should have known this because it is usually one of the test questions.