Boy’s Death Prompts Action To Prevent Other Sepsis Deaths

Infections, Wrongful Death

Sepsis is a leading cause of death in hospitals. It is a self-destructive immune response to infection or illness. The death of a twelve year old boy in Queens of sepsis has prompted New York State to require that hospitals actively look for sepsis in patients in order to catch it early so treatment can begin sooner and be more effective.

The twelve year old boy in Queens, Rory Staunton, died of sepsis this past April. He apparently became infected through a cut that he received when he was playing basketball. Unfortunately he was not identified as having sepsis and was sent home when diagnosed with a bellyache. Laboratory results later came back indicating that he may be very ill but neither he nor his family was contacted by the hospital. It is possible that had he been properly diagnosed sooner and received timely treatment, he may not have died.

Treatment for sepsis can help people significantly provided it is started early enough. Over the past ten years, guidelines have been developed by doctors, researchers, hospitals, and advocates around the world to identify and treat sepsis early. These guidelines have led to a significant drop in mortality rates due to sepsis. However, identifying sepsis early can be difficult since the symptoms, such as high pulse rate and fever, resemble that of the flu or a cold. Additionally, hospitals do not always adhere to the guidelines.

Unfortunately it is not standard for doctors and other health care professionals to look for sepsis. New York State wants to issue new regulations that would require that hospitals use best practices when identifying and treating sepsis. If doctors and nurses were trained to watch for sepsis the same way they routinely watch for other conditions, such as heart attacks, then treatment could begin earlier and lives could be saved.

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