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Stauntons Issue Statement Following NYTimes Article

Rory and Ciaran Staunton (Photo source: Pat Dorfman)

July 14, 2012 Staff Report

The untimely death of Sunnyside’s Rory Staunton has attracted world-wide media attention in recent days.

On Wednesday, The New York Times chronicled the 12 year old boy’s final days–from the time he scraped his elbow in gym class to the moments up to his death from septic shock four days later. The article made clear that all he needed was a shot of penicillin to be saved.

The Times story looked at many of the medical missteps along the way that played a role in his death. Since the publication of the article, the Staunton family has issued the following statement on

“Our beloved son Rory was the light of our lives. He should never have died. It is clear to us he did not receive the basic standard of care which would have saved him and which he, as an innocent child, above all, had a right to expect.

Our beloved boy is gone but we want to ensure that no other family experiences the utter heartbreak and grief we have because of such substandard care.

We believe Rory’s pediatrician ignored obvious signs of serious illness and sent him to NYU Emergency room for re hydration, giving us, his family, a diagnosis of acute febrile gastritis. NYU hospital and its Emergency Room were in turn extremely negligent in their treatment of Rory. Signs of serious illness were ignored and Rory was allowed leave the hospital desperately ill. Rory’s pediatrician continued the following day, despite our appeals, to dismiss our concerns.  We believe NYU hospital and Rory’s pediatrician should acknowledge their negligent treatment of him to the Staunton family, treatment that we believe resulted in his death. They owe it to Rory and the children who will come after him, to ensure that this never happens again.

NYU Emergency Room sent a very ill child home. No discussion of vital statistics took place with the Staunton family. It was this lack of care and communication which resulted in Rory’s death and what we and our daughter Kathleen will live with every day of our lives. We have been handed a life sentence.

We want to see NYU Emergency Room establish clear failsafe procedures when a sick child enters their hospital. This would require them to have an experienced, qualified and identifiable professional in charge. NYU Emergency room should ensure that parents receive an explanation of their child’s blood test results while present in the hospital and a discussion on what are the potential illnesses his or her other symptoms might indicate. Those are three key areas that were never available to us and that cost Rory his life.

It is too late for Rory but we know above all he would want no other child to go through what he went through. For this reason we are working to enact Rory’s Law and we have met with the Governor’s Office, the State Health Commissioner and New York legislators to seek changes in City and State regulations to ensure no other child dies because of lack of proper medical treatment in a New York Emergency Room.

This will be Rory’s legacy.”

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I have been reading up on sepsis and on this particular case. It seems that the lab people did not communicate with the emergency room people or with the pediatrician. This is a terrible and shocking blow to the family. Somebody should have made a call to the family and told them to return to the hospital once the white blood count had spiked.

Full Metal Blogger

@ recovering catholic – you can’t be that stupid. You shouldn’t be allowed to voice your opinion. The five people that read this site are now dumber for having read your comment.


Gym floor – I hope gym teachers and school nurses (if any are still around) are aware of the bacteria that lurks. My kids were all on sports teams and in retrospect, I think they dodged a bullet.


Don’t strep infections usually hit the throat? This was the first time I had heard of a strep infection from a cut on the elbow. How is strep different from staff? Is it more difficult to diagnose? As a clumsy kid – and clumsy adult – I have fallen and had cuts many times. I have washed the wounds with either soap and water and/or applied hydrogen peroxide. I really don’t understand how this happened and why it does not happen even more. I hope somebody with a medical background can explain because now I am terrified of cuts and wounds! I had a friend who had cellulitis by the way, and it was very serious. I believe that that is another wound infection. So many unique ways to die in NYC! It is awful. Having said that, the death of this young man seems very unusual.


To Mary Farren:
My comments are in response to family’s desire to legislate which really has nothing to do with LISTENING. I’m all for the later. And I think your father’s memorial plaque is a lovely idea.

Mary Caulfield, Phipps

There must be two Mary Caulfied’s reading this site. Although I fully concur with the sentiments of the Mary who posted yesterday, it wasn’t me. I grew up in Sunnyside, always and still living in Phipps Gardens Apartments. I will sign in as Mary Caulfield, Phipps, when I want to comment from now on.


Let’s just pass a law against death. Any doctor who loses a patient should be arrested and locked up. Problem solved. Perhaps the politicians would like to take up medicine. Let’s see how well they do.

Mary Farren

This gut wrenching, heartbreaking story parallels in many ways the death of my father who died of a similar infection. Our family too experienced the tragedy of a medical staff that did not communicate nor follow up on clinical findings in the ER. It was a catastrophic event compounded by the inexcuseable behavior on all levels in the ER. The tragic fact that the infection is probably deadly is not the issue here.
The reporting of the journey through hell that the Stauntons are experiencing is important. I fully support the movement for a “Rory’s Law” as the best and only possible good that can result from this tragedy and will help all of us. After my father’s death we felt the need to confront and educate the hospital staff. After much back and forth and letting them know we knew the facts as detailed in the medical record we petitioned the hospital to provide us the opportunity to tell the story of our experience and my father’s death to the residents and attending physicians, which we did. Our message was clear – it echoed the words of the doctor who finally attended to my father as he lay dying in unspeakable pain and who was unfortunately fully aware of the fact that his condition was not being treated as he worsened before our eyes, and that the ER staff were not listeing to what he or we were trying to tell them. The doctor who finally attended to my father said to the others “Always listen to what the patient and family tells you is wrong”. These words were inscribed on a plaque and placed in the ER where staff will hopefuly see it. In addressing the group of physicians, I told them how my father always told us that in order to to do a job well you needed to use the right tool. I suggested to the group that their ears are one of their best tools – and to make certain in their practice to listen and hear what the patient / family says is wrong. This was our effort at righting the failure of the staff. Our deep condolences to the Staunton Family. Your efforts and mission is so important – you have our ears.
I think Rory would be proud.

Nicholas J. Facci

My heart breaks for this family, I have been following the Rory Staunton case since I learned of it. Its dreadful that such a wonderful, intelligent, special child that had so much to offer this world had to die so young because the medical practice failed him, his family and the community.
This is a terrible tragedy that should have been avoided swiftly and routinely if only he was given the attention he deserved.

God Bless the Stauntons and Rory and may he rest in peace and may his legacy live. This is tragic but from what I learned from Rory’s selflessness and caring personality he wanted to make a difference and I hope that his death although unnecessary and sad will become and instrument to save others, he would have wanted that. There are so few people that posses Rory’s qualities.

Rory –

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
The rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of his hand.

Amen & God Bless

-Nick Facci

you all make me laugh

Maybe the family shouldn’t have commented on the story. Might make it less viable in their Malpractice lawsuit. Cha-Ching……

Gregory House

I have to agree with what’s being said. It’s an incredibly tragic story, and my heart goes out to the family, but there are others that can be saved by not automatically prescribing anti-biotics. Once the strains develop resistance (which some already have) it’s game over for the rest of us.


I agree with BB PA-C

Legislation and bureaucracy is not the way to go here even if it might be emotionally satisfying to some degree.

There are plenty of laws on the books and doctors are already under intense pressure and scrutiny every day from potential lawsuits for every move they make. They also pay a huge amount in malpractice insurance no matter how good they are. Is it any wonder we have a shortage of doctors in this country yet an abundance of lawyers?


This is a tragic story and I will keep it in mind when I see my patients in the walk-in Urgent Care where I am a Physician Assistant. That said, I agree with Anonymous, the boy was doomed when he cut his arm at school. Do we legislate wound care at schools? Do we legislate use of antibiotics for wounds? Do we legislate a review of vitals, lab tests and all potential diagnosis and expect the patient/parentfamily to comprehend and/or apply the usefullness if any to their personal situation? I can understand that Rory’s parents don’t want this to happen to anyone else but this can’t be prevented by legislation.
My regrets to the family and physicians, nurses involved. I know their lives will never be the same.


7train.. Sue the school… silly.
Anyway how would you stop if some kid stepped on dog shit (we got A LOT of this in sunnyside) and dragged it to school.. You can’t be wiping the floor every single day.

Just push for more medical research and find a cure to this friggin sickness, or find out how come the kid got it so bad so quick.

god bless the kid, or.. i wish strength to the kids family


What about the sanitary conditions at the gym? It seems to me they were a factor. Is anything being done regarding that?


My father, a physician and former pediatrician, and I have been discussing this case since Rory’s untimely death. For what it’s worth, these are his thoughts on the NYT article:

This boy was doomed from the moment he acquired his strep infection — from the gym floor, where the bacteria were lurking. The organisms probably entered his circulation at that time, and the die was cast. Unfortunately, this was almost certainly a strain of strep that produces exotoxin — quite uncommon as a cause of infection but not infrequently isolated from gyms and similar venues. Not one doctor in 10,000 would have made the diagnosis before it was too late. His symptoms were vague and nonspecific. 99.99 times out of 100 his symptoms would have proved to be nothing more than a viral infection. Sure, the CBC showed a dramatic increase in juvenile neutrophils (“band” cells, the hallmark of severe bacterial infection). But the blood tests were done as part of a multicentered study on the relationship between symptoms of early sepsis (fever, rapid pulse, and rapid breathing) and had nothing to do with this boy’s symptoms in the ER. No one looked at the lab results for a few days, because the tests were not performed because of any perceived clinical indication. There were a few clues later in the course of the infection but they too were missed/ignored — and by then the damage to his organs and extremities was irreversible, so it wouldn’t have made any difference. The only thing that could have saved him was his pediatrician putting him on an antibiotic prophylactically for the cut — almost any antibiotic is effective against strep. But she didn’t, because 1) she thought the cut was a red herring and of no clinical significance, 2) she believed/hoped that his symptoms were due to a mild viral infection (“flu-like,” always a good cop-out diagnosis), and 3) we are taught now not to prescribe antibiotics “indiscriminately.” Very sad.


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