A Spanaway couple is planning to sue Tacoma’s Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital because a doctor gave their 2-year-old son who had fallen out of a window a clean bill of health after a brief examination -- and then the boy died hours later.
No CT scans were ordered prior to the release of the toddler, who, it was discovered later, had bleeding in the brain.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, CT scans are typically only performed when a child loses consciousness after hitting their head. A CT scan exposes a child to radiation equal to 300X-rays, and can require sedation, which is risky.
And the doctor involved in this case apparently didn't feel the boy had lost consciousness. But the Spanaway family feels more should have been done.
Bryan Salinas was only nine days shy of his third birthday when his father said the boy pushed through the screen of an open window at their home on June 30 and fell about five feet to the grass below.
The father, Marco Salinas, said Bryan was crying and vomiting, so he took him to the emergency room at Mary Bridge Children's Hospital.
In spite of Bryan’s continued vomiting, Salinas said, the doctor did a quick check and gave the toddler a clean bill of health.
"The doctor come and, OK, he touch my son like this, ‘He’s fine,’” Salinas said.
In an ER report given to Q13 Fox News by the family, a doctor wrote:
DIAGNOSES: Fall, No evidence of serious injury.
DISPOSITION: Condition at time of discharge was excellent.
But early the next morning, Salinas found Bryan dead.
"My son had stopped breathing and lips purple,” Salinas said.
He called an ambulance and Bryan was rushed back to Mary Bridge, but it was too late.
Doctors performed a CAT scan and found there was no brain activity; Bryan was brain dead.
In the documents given to Q13 FOX News by the family, a doctor wrote:
DEATH DIAGNOSIS: Complete Brain death; Closed head injury; Subdural Hematoma; Significant Herniation
That’s bleeding and pressure on the brain -- enough to move the brain from its usual position inside the boy’s skull.
"I just couldn't imagine. I could not believe it. I was so torn apart. I cried right then and there,” said family friend Synovia Itson, who is helping the family cope with the loss.
She believes the doctors should have done more during the initial visit to the ER.
"To just send him home like that without doing X-rays, CAT scans or anything to tell, you can't say that he's OK if you're just touching and feeling him. He fell out of a window. He's 3 years old. He's fragile,” Itson said.
Marco Salinas agrees and fears there may have been other factors that played into his son's death.
"I believe in the doctor, but I think he don't want to do nothing with us because we are Latin people, we are poor people because we had government insurance for my kids, because we don't have money, you know?” Salinas said.
"No one should ever have to go through anything like that,” Itson said. “The pain they're feeling, the emptiness, the heartache and it's sad. It saddened my heart for them to have been treated like that.”
Officials at Mary Bridge wouldn’t appear on camera, but released a statement saying: “In every case involving the death of a child, we thoroughly evaluate the care we provided and look closely into the circumstances. That evaluation is under way. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family.”
Meanwhile, the family has retained an attorney and is contemplating legal action.