So Mommy was on CNN.com the other day and a headline caught her eye - Don't Die Waiting in the ER. Since we are frequent flyers of the ER (or were before I got asthma meds) she was curious and then horrified. Can you guess why? That's right, the hospital mentioned in the article is the one I was born at (and transferred from within hours of my birth) and also the site of my first ER visit (and after 10 hours eventually transferred from again). Based on the fact that my only two visits to the hospital resulting in me being transferred from it - my parents never went back and from the sounds of it - they made a wise decision!
Don't die waiting in the ER
By Sabriya Rice, CNN Medical producer
January 13, 2011 4:45 p.m. EST
(CNN) -- When 2-year-old Malyia Jeffers developed a fever one Sunday afternoon in November, her parents gave her a children's Motrin and kept a cautious eye on her throughout the night. By the following morning, Malyia's fever had jumped to 101 degrees, and other concerning symptoms also started to appear. "I noticed bruising on her right cheek. She was really weak and could hardly walk," says her father, Ryan. He and his wife, Leah, drove Malyia to the emergency room at Methodist Hospital, five miles from their Sacramento, California, home. According to Jeffers, a triage nurse briefly examined his daughter and said Malyia most likely had a virus and a rash, and told the family to wait. They waited -- and Malyia got worse. After two hours in the ER waiting room, Malyia couldn't walk or even stand up. "I tried to stand her on her feet, but her knees buckled," her father says. Malyia's fever went from 101 to 103 degrees. Then, Jeffers says, the bruising on his daughter's cheek, once the size of a marble, covered most of her face and ears. Jeffers says he returned to the emergency room nurse, who repeated that Malyia had just a virus and a rash. "I told him, 'This isn't normal. Look at her ears,' " Jeffers recalls saying to the nurse. "'A rash isn't black and blue!' The nurse kept telling me, 'You'll be next, you'll be next.' But we saw other people going back before us." Jeffers says he carried Malyia around with him while constantly complaining to the staff while his daughter continued to grow weaker in his arms. The couple discussed switching to another hospital but thought they would be seen soon and they didn't want to lose time. They continued to wait. After what her father says was nearly five hours of waiting in the emergency department, Malyia's body went limp. For Jeffers, the wait was over. This time he bypassed the desk where the emergency room nurses sat and pushed through the doors behind them. "I asked to see someone different," Jeffers says. "I showed another nurse the bruising and said, 'Does this seem like a rash to you?' The nurse said, 'No' and put us in a room right away." Jeffers says blood tests showed Malyia's liver was failing. She was sent by ambulance to a nearby hospital with a pediatric intensive care unit, which diagnosed a strep A infection. Also called the "flesh eating bacteria," strep A had sent Malyia into toxic shock. Malyia was transferred once again, this time to Lucile Packard Children's Hospital at Stanford University. By this time, the prognosis was more grim. "It was hour to hour, sometimes minute to minute. We had a roller-coaster ride trying to keep her alive," says Jeffers, who for two weeks thought his daughter might not pull through.
"She deteriorated quickly in front of us," says Dr. Deborah Franzon, the pediatrician who treated Malyia when she arrived at Stanford. "She needed life support and blood pressure medications to help her heart functioning." While the doctors managed to save Malyia, not enough oxygen was getting to her limbs. Because of that, Franzon said, three weeks after she arrived at Stanford, surgeons had to amputate her left hand and some of the fingers on right hand. They also had to remove her legs below the knees. Methodist Hospital said it could not legally comment on the Jeffers' case. "At Methodist Hospital, patient care and safety is always our top priority" said communications manager Bryan Gardner. "Patient privacy laws do not allow us to discuss specifics of this case. We were sorry to hear about the eventual outcome for this little girl and our thoughts and prayers are with her and her family."