The boy who didn't have to die.


  • Specializes in ORTHOPAEDICS-CERTIFIED SINCE 89. Has 30 years experience.

This happened in SC . I read it with horror when I thought of the parents. BUT I also wonder if things would have been different if the boy had been sent to an appropriate nursing unit? While peds oncology nurses are indeed skilled, this boy needed a Surgical nursing staff. Nurses who KNEW post-op cx. Nurses who KNEW the docs.

Any comments?


1 Article; 5,758 Posts

I know about 1000 experienced nurses, including myself, who would never have let this happen. Unfortunately only about 10 of them are still working at the bedside. :bluecry1:

live4today, RN

5,099 Posts

Specializes in Community Health Nurse.

Wow, what a very very very sad and true story! :eek: I worked at that hospital in 1989, so Good was working there while I was there. My heart goes out to the family, and I sure hope they see to it that this doesn't happen to some other child who becomes a patient in those circumstances. They couldn't pay that family nearly enough to make their pain any less, so it was nice to read that the family decided to use that money for a very worthy cause. We never really know what's going to claim our life, but we certainly hope if we seek hospital care that THE HEADS IN CHARGE will know what the hell they are doing. :(

Jolie, BSN

6,375 Posts

Specializes in Maternal - Child Health. Has 37 years experience.

Absolutely unbelievable. My prayers to the family, and also to all the responsible staff members who will have to live with their roles in this tragedy for the rest of their lives.

Renee, what unit did you work on? I was working in a Level II Nursery in Rock Hill at that time, and we sent a few cardiac babies to MUSC.

live4today, RN

5,099 Posts

Specializes in Community Health Nurse.

Hi Jolie...I was working on the tenth floor "The VIP Unit" know...for the well-to-do adult patients. :rolleyes: My unit was for cardiac patients, old open hearts readmitted with infections, and to prevent infections from colds they caught, etc. We were hangin' TPN out the ying-yang on that floor. We also had a few post op surgery patients who presented with different diagnosis. One kid in his early twenties was a status post MVA with multiple problems, and coded on us as soon as I took report on him. He was a newlywed, and the bride was at his bedside the entire time. THEN, Hugo came to town and tore up everything, so nursing at that hospital through that disaster wasn't much of a VIP invite, I can tell you that. :chuckle


583 Posts

It is tragic when a person dies rom any post-op complications, but this article seems to be written by the "Columbia lawyer who specializes in medical negligence cases."

Each and every surgery has it's own set of complications and risks. When my wife had recent Open Heart to repair a congential defect (several actually, re-repair of 40 y/o surgery) did I tell her the possibility of a bad outcome. No way, but I knew it was there, and it did go bad for a while. With a non-paced rate in the 20's, 1800ml of albumin in the first 12 hours post-op, lots of dopamine and not being extubated for 14 hours post-op, that was one time I wished I had no medical knowledge. But she is fine now, and one of the reasons is she was in a CICU, with knowledgable nurses, and a real a$$hole of a husband who watched them like a hawk. It helped to have experience recovering hearts, this time.

But back to this particular case,

Osteopaths are specialists in bones and muscles.

I think a D.O. may be a little more then just a bone and muscle doc.

A lot of the article seems to be taken from the mom's diary. Without med records it is hard for me to second guess the Dr.s, nurses, or the care that Lewis received.

It also seems that this case caused a lot of changes at this particular hospital, which in the long run will probably enhance patient safety, and the lines of communication between the family and the providers.

A death post-op is tragic, whether the pt is a neonate to 1000 years old. I have been to several codes in my hospital where the pt is 1-2 days post-op. Complications do occur, and often with tragic outcomes.

They assignment of blame in this case seems to be broad, from Dr.s, to nurses, to Aides. Anytime there is an unexpected death in the hospital you can be sure the lawyers will be there before the funeral home picks up the body (or so it seems), but that is fodder for a far more virulant thread.


sharann, BSN, RN

1,758 Posts

What an unecessary tradgedy. I am stunned that even the residents didn't have the common sense (1st year med students would know) to get a stat CBC. The nurses could have been more advocated to the patient. Of course, we only heard one side to this story. I am leary of any form of media trying to tackle a medical story accurately.


169 Posts

Without seeing the medical chart, it's hard to see the complete scope of the story. If it all happened according to the mother's diary entries, then yes, it's tragic and something should have been done a long time before he coded. If the nurses had experience caring for post-op patients, they would have been able to recognise his symptoms and have more pull to get a surgeon in. While every surgery carries its risks, looking only at the information given, this was definitely a bodgy job. Poor kid...


1,804 Posts

i wonder how many other kids the nurses were taking care of and how much experience they had. it is so sad that this kid (same age as my nephew) had to die. i think the physicians need to be monitoring their pts more closely rather than just passing them off to the residents totally for the w/e. as for the focus on equipment malfunction rather than pts. sx's- how scary, but how often have we all seen this, esp. w/ drs. would be nice to hear a different side of the story. of course, mom is devestated and can't be objective. i have to agree this is a lawyer orchestrated account of things. i think osteopaths are a little more educated than this simplistic account entails. as much as anything, hospital politics and who can call who killed this child, it would seem.


829 Posts

This story hits home for me. I know several peds nurses (not on that unit) at MUSC. I am forwarding them the article.

I agree w/the poster that said the article seems to have been written by the lawyer. I agree.....I'd wanna see the chart.

Here's my thing that I can't get over......the patient was a KID. Now, I'm not a peds nurse, but aren't most peds nurses especially vigilant and careful with their patients, especially so since they are children and they manifest different symptoms when something is wrong?

And another could anyone not recognize that a decreasing temp is a sign of shock?? That's basic pathophys/med surg right there.

What a waste of a young, seemingly brilliant kid.


1 Article; 2,394 Posts

Specializes in Everything except surgery. Has 27 years experience.

Unfortunately my son ran into some of the same problems not only at the base he was training at...who ignored classic sx of appendicitis....and tried to tell him he was just constipated...gave him a suppository..:eek:...and then had the gall to deny they ever did such a thing! If it had not been for a Capt who came through the ward and looked at my son...he might not have made his appendix had already rutpured! He was immediately taken to surgery...after having his complaints ignored numerous times!!! In fact if he hadn't been determined to have some look at him...he would have never been admitted to the hospital!! He was sent home...where I cared for him...then started having experiencing pain again after being pain free for a few days. I dug him to the ER...only to have them them him was constipated also!! My son took this as a clue...that his mom was overly protective! NOT!!

I called the base when he went back...and told them to watch I felt something was wrong!! I was right!! He ended out going back to surgery for intestional blockage...and this time Mother was RIGHT THERE....and wasn't going to MOVE!!!:( Very sad story...and I also believe this child would have faired better on a surgical floor..:o

This is a terrible tragedy. I was crying reading it, I am entering my senior year of my BSN and I would have known something was wrong, and known to take the weight before hand. Most likely the people screeing may not have even been nursing.

But I do agree with the above posters, this is all the mothers account, and the exacts are unknown.

BTW, a D.O. is the equivalent of an M.D., both 4 year medical schools, same rights, same pay, the D.O. degree was just founded after the M.D. degree by an M.D. But a D.O. can practice and is trained in any specialty of medicine. They have the same schooling of M.D.'s plus extra training in holisitic care and OMM.

Yes so even though this is a terrible terrible event, I don't know if we can know all the certainty from that exact article.

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