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Warning: Influenza Can Be Fatal To Children

Most people assume that the flu is an inconvenience – an infection that causes a week of fevers, body aches, and discomfort. But it can be far more serious than that. In some cases, the virus can be fatal. I interviewed Joe Lastinger about the tragic loss of his 3 and-a-half year-old daughter to influenza. You can listen to our interview here.

Dr. Val: I’m so sorry to hear about your daughter’s death from influenza. Can you tell me a little bit about the events that led up to it?

Joe: The events were pretty unremarkable, until she died suddenly. Emily was three and a half at the time and had just started pre-school. One day she came home from school and she was very tired. She wanted to take a nap. Normally she didn’t take naps so we knew something was different. We took her to the pediatrician the next day and she was diagnosed with the flu. We were counseled to give her fluids, Tylenol and Motrin around the clock to control her fever, and to expect it to resolve in about a week.

However, Emily began experiencing more nausea a few days in. We contacted the pediatrician and she asked us a series of questions about her symptoms – but since she was urinating regularly, wasn’t having bloody vomit, or any other serious symptoms we were reassured. The next day my wife was in the kitchen (near the bedroom where she had left Emily) and I heard her scream. She found Emily on the ground, not breathing. We called 911 and the paramedics were able to get her heart started. She was transferred to the local children’s hospital, and was intubated. Unfortunately there was never any sign of brain activity and they slowly maxed out all the drugs they were giving her to keep her alive.

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Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

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How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

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Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

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The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

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Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

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