I recently read a story from California about a little girl who was forced to wait for treatment in an ER for over five hours. According to the story, the family’s ordeal began on a Sunday morning in early December, when the normally rambunctious girl developed a fever and became lethargic.
When her symptoms persisted the next day the father took his little girl to the ER and he tried to get immediate care, but was rebuffed. After about five hours, according to the news account, he ambushed a nurse and demanded to see a doctor. The physician took blood samples that suggested the girl was in liver failure. She was taken by ambulance to the pediatric intensive care unit at Sutter Memorial Hospital. Doctors there had her flown to Stanford aboard a helicopter.
It turned out the girl was in septic shock from a Streptococcus A infection that invaded her blood, muscles and internal organs. According to the CDC early treatment can reduce death and disability from the disease. The Stanford doctors put the girl on life support and gave her medicine. They ultimately had to perform operations to amputate her lower legs and her left hand, which had been irreversibly damaged by a lack of oxygen.
This tragic case seemingly could have been avoided if the hospital personnel had taken the time to properly assess the little girl. Although a wait in the ER is expected in many cases, five hours is not reasonable. The hospital was either understaffed or the employees were not doing their job adequately. Either way, medical errors like this should be avoided. As an Arkansas lawyer who represents individuals and their families who are victims of medical negligence, I hope that Arkansas hospitals learn from this sotry and make sure it does not happen here.