“At the emergency room they concurred with the diagnosis of gastric flu, ignoring any other symptoms present,” Staunton testified. “Twelve minutes before Rory left the hospital his vital signs were taken. His condition had deteriorated. It appears that no one took the time to review all available information.
“They discharged him noting ‘patient improved,’ despite that fact that his vital signs were totally irregular and had deteriorated since his arrival there. The hospital staff concluded he had a sick stomach and was suffering from dehydration.”
Rory’s parents brought him home to Sunnyside, Queens, and his condition continued to deteriorate. The next day, Friday, the pediatrician told the Stauntons not to worry about the fever and his other ailments which by this point also included severe dizziness.
However, his health rapidly deteriorating, Rory's petrified parents raced him back to NYU Langone that evening where ER frantically went to work to treat him – “all hell broke loose,” as Staunton told the Senate.
But by then it was too late, as the 12-year-old was in the throes of sepsis that was racing through his organs. Less than 48 hours later, Rory Staunton died in the ICU, leaving behind his heartbroken parents, a 10-year-old sister, Kathleen, and shocked family members and friends throughout Ireland and the U.S.
Rory’s parents had no idea what sepsis was, and therefore never thought to look for possible symptoms. The fact that blood tests showing clear signs of the infection went ignored by his pediatrician and staff at NYU Langone galls the family even more because sepsis is treatable if it is caught at its onset.
“Rory’s mom stripped him down and checked to see if they had missed a bug bite. She also checked him for signs of meningitis,” Staunton testified. “But we never heard of sepsis.”
Now, the Stauntons are committed to carrying forth Rory’s memory by helping to ensure that no family ever feels the pain of losing a loved one to undiagnosed sepsis. In May of this year New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law “Rory’s Regulations” which require all hospitals in New York State to adopt protocols to identify and treat sepsis.
“Rory’s Regulations will help New York set a gold-standard for patient care. Governor Cuomo believes that 5,000 to 8,000 lives a year in the State of New York will be saved as a result of Rory’s Regulations,” Staunton told Senate members.
“If this strategy was applied to all Americans, it could save more than 150,000 lives a year, more than 400 people a day.
“Sepsis is a medical emergency. Sepsis needs to be suspected. Once it is suspected and treated we can save lives and save the U.S. economy billions.
“We are calling on Congress to institute a federal nationwide program of education on early detection of sepsis with similar standards in all 50 states. We are also calling on Congress to create a comprehensive educational resource so that doctors, nurses and, yes, parents and patients can include sepsis as a possible diagnosis when a patient shows up in an emergency room with similar symptoms to Rory. Sepsis is not a deadly disease when caught in time.”
To read Ciaran Staunton’s full testimony to the Senate click here.
Here’s the video of the full Senate hearing on “U.S. Efforts to Reduce Healthcare-Associated Infections”