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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

She thought he was just throwing a tantrum: An IV drug error

When six-year-old Chance Pendleton came out of surgery for a wandering eye, it was obvious that something was not right. "He was crying hysterically, vomiting and kept saying, 'I wish I was dead,'" his mother said.

The boy had been through surgery before and had never reacted this way: "The nurse was quite peeved and wanted me to calm him before he disturbed anyone," his mother said, adding that Chase was denied more pain and anti-nausea medication. "She thought he was just throwing a tantrum."

After about 20 minutes, another nurse walked by, and Chance's mother beckoned her for help. The nurse checked the intravenous line in Chance's ankle and saw that it wasn't inserted correctly. He wasn't receiving any medication. She immediately fixed it, bringing relief to Chance in a matter of seconds.

Chance's mother said she had not been aggressive enough. "I wish I had been more confrontational sooner," she said. "That was the worst 20 minutes of my life."

Advice: Parents need to be the eyes, ears and advocates for their children. Dr. Steve Selbst, author of a study of malpractice suits, says, "You know your child, and if you feel something's wrong, go up the chain of command."

Read another story of a mother who saved her son.

Thanks to Laurie Tarkan for the source article in yesterday's New York Times.

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