Hospital Changes Discharge Procedures in Wake of Death

hospitalNew York University Langone Medical Center has announced it is making changes to its emergency care guidelines following the sudden death by strep infection of a boy.  Twelve-year old Rory Staunton cut his arm while playing basketball at school in March, and subsequently fell ill and was taken by his parents to his pediatrician.  Feverish, vomiting, and suffering from severe leg pain and a rapid heart rate, he was then brought to Langone’s emergency room, where he was diagnosed with a stomach bug and discharged.

The emergency room doctors had not yet received Rory’s bloodwork results, which, three hours later, would show band counts (the levels of a white blood cell associated with bacterial infections) almost five times the normal level, most likely from bacteria entering his body through the wound to his arm.  Neither his parents nor his pediatrician were advised about the lab results, but when Rory was brought back to the emergency room the following night, he was admitted, and died of toxic shock and organ failure less than 48 hours later.

NYU Langone said in a statement on Wednesday that emergency department physicians and nurses would be “immediately notified of certain lab results suggestive of serious infection” and has developed a checklist to ensure that patients are not discharged before a final review of critical lab results and vital signs is conducted, or if results are not available until after discharge, the patient and the referring physician will both be notified once the information is available.

This tragic death highlights the critical need for the quick and accurate communication of clinical data, as well as the integration of said data and an open mind on the part of healthcare providers.  Using Electronic Medical Records software like McKesson Practice Choice, Medisoft Clinical, or Allscripts MyWay effectively puts relevant data at providers’ fingertips, and Microwize Technology can help.