Three hours after the boy, Rory Staunton, left the emergency room, a laboratory test showed that his blood had extraordinarily high levels of cells associated with bacterial infections. He subsequently went into shock and experienced organ failure, and died three days later, on April 1. His parents said they were not told about the lab results and were unaware of how seriously ill their son was, having been assured that he was suffering from a typical stomach bug.
In a statement, the hospital said that emergency physicians and nurses would be “immediately notified of certain lab results suggestive of serious infection, such as elevated band counts.” Rory Staunton’s bands, or a type of white blood cell, were nearly five times as high as a normal level.
The hospital has developed a new checklist to ensure that a doctor and nurse have conducted “a final review of all critical lab results and patient vital signs” before a patient leaves, Lisa Greiner, a spokeswoman, said in the statement.
“In the unlikely occurrence that a clinically relevant test is only available after the patient is discharged from the E.D., the patient will be called, and the information will be shared with referring physician,” Ms. Greiner said.
The family pediatrician, who sent Rory to the hospital to be given fluids for dehydration, said she did not know about the blood work.
Ms. Greiner said the steps were taken in direct response to Rory’s death.
“Keeping our patients safe is our first priority, and we want to prevent this situation from happening again,” she said.