6-Year-Old With Flu-Like Symptoms Sent Home From Hospital With Tylenol, Later Dies In Her Sleep

28 comments
January 11, 2013 ‐ By
Courtesy of Facebook

Courtesy of Facebook

If you’ve been watching the news, I’m sure you’ve noticed the repeated information being thrown out there in droves about the severe flu season we’re going through right now. Severe might actually be a an understatement, what with places like Boston declaring a public health emergency because of their flu cases, and tents going up in states like Pennsylvania to deal with the massive amount of people with severe symptoms, according to ABC.com. If you’re one of those people who’ve listened to all of this information and let it go in one ear and out the other, this sad story might give you a reason to take all these warnings seriously, for yourself and your children.

According to The Dallas Morning News, little Tahila Johnson, 6, woke up on Monday morning dealing with aching pains all over her body. Taking her warnings seriously, her parents took the child to Dallas Regional Medical Center, and after checking her out for a little bit and figuring out that she had flu-like symptoms (though reports say she wasn’t tested for anything), the hospital sent Johnson home with some Zyrtec medicine, assuming her condition would improve. In an interview with WFAA-TV in Dallas, Tahila’s father, Earl Johnson, said that they decided all this after just spending a few minutes with the little girl, even though the family waited HOURS to see a doctor. “They even told us they didn’t check her for flu, and just gave her Tylenol and Zyrtec and sent us out the door,” he says. She was discharged that Monday evening and went home and straight to bed.

To the devastating shock of her family, Tahila Johnson went to bed that night, and in the morning, did not wake up. According to reports, when her grandmother checked on her in the middle of the night, she was asleep, but by early morning, when they went to wake her up, she was non-responsive. Not only that, her body was cold and stiff. By the time paramedics could come, it was too late, the little girl had passed.

A lot of blame should go to the hospital for not doing enough, though reports say they were bombarded with nonstop flu cases, therefore their time with each patience was limited. However, they did send out a statement to The Dallas Morning News saying, “The staff at Dallas Regional Medical Center would like to extend our deepest sympathies to the family of Tahila Johnson. This is a tragic loss for which we are deeply saddened.”

While her father is mad at the hospital for not really checking her and doing more, he also feels responsible for not demanding more from them. While speaking with WFAA-TV, he sent a warning to other parents dealing with sick children this flu season:

“Make them check, make sure you do more to take care of your baby. That’s what is beating me up the most. I felt like I could have done more, like I should have made them check my baby for this and that.”

If you’re wondering, for those who don’t have insurance, you can actually get flu shots from places like Walgreens for a pretty good price (word is, it’s around $40). But if you can’t get your flu shots this year, please be sure to wash your hands and keep your germs to yourself. Those who are sick need to stay away from work, school and other people in general, and if your child becomes ill, it’s definitely recommended that you take them to a children’s hospital to get input and help on how to proceed with their condition. We just hope that people, including the bombarded doctors and nurses at hospitals during this time, will take people’s symptoms and illnesses a bit more seriously. Clearly, this might be one of the worst flu seasons in years.

Condolences to the Johnson family, and R.I.P. to this precious little girl.

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  • bri

    prepare yourself for alot of negs alot people don’t like the truth. Vaccines are dangerous there is no other way around it.

  • rzakia

    This is such a sad story. But it does make me feel a little better about the way I am whenever I have to take either of my girls to the doctor or hospital. I ask specific questions regarding the diagnosis the doctor gives, I’m on my phone researching things I demand answers. Now the doctors and nurses may not like it but I’m my kids’ advocates so I have to speak up for them not to mention I live with them and the doctors are only getting a glimpse of what’s going on. Parents have to remember that if your kid is sick and what the doctor is saying doesn’t feel right you can always ask that doctor to send in someone else. A good doctor won’t be offended.

    Regarding the flu vaccine, both of my daughters got it in November and in the middle of December they both had the flu. I didn’t get the vaccination but didn’t get the flu either. When I questioned our pediatrician she said the vaccine is designed to only guard against the strands of flu that the CDC thinks are going to be prevalent for that year. The vaccine does not shield you from every strand of flu.

    • SMHgurl24

      THIS ^^!!! So many ppl think a vaccine is the cure all but it isn’t. It takes care of one part of a whole problem. Viruses multiply constantly, you will never be shielded by a vaccine unless you already had the particular strain. Best thing to do when exposed is to fight it off yourself. Use as little meds as you can since that can prolong the illness (read that somewhere for a bug I had couple weeks ago) and keep hydrated. Yea it really stinks and you feel horrible but thats your best bet.

    • SMHgurl24

      THIS ^^!!! So many ppl think a vaccine is the cure all but it isn’t. It takes care of one part of a whole problem. Viruses multiply constantly, you will never be shielded by a vaccine unless you already had the particular strain. Best thing to do when exposed is to fight it off yourself. Use as little meds as you can since that can prolong the illness (read that somewhere for a bug I had couple weeks ago) and keep hydrated. Yea it really stinks and you feel horrible but thats your best bet.

    • bigdede

      I agree that the vaccine doesn’t mean you won’t get the flu since there are so many strands of flu. It is still better to get the vaccine just in case. Once you have the flu, you can’t just get a flu shot and everything will be okay. The father wanted the doctors to give his daughter the flu shot and everything but that would not have worked. An autopsy concluded the little girl had the flu. She may have had the new strand of flu going around. Lots of kids and teens have died here in the DFW area because of the flu. Except this little girl should have gone to Children’s hospital. She would have been admitted. The doctors at the hospital should have told the father to take the little girl to Children’s. This one teen here died after being admitted to the hospital with the flu. He ended up with a staph infection while at the hospital and died!

  • Just Peachy!

    I just want to say it never hurts to get a second opinion. A lot of times doctors may diagnose things based on a few details given without checking further, thinking that the patient will be satisfied when sent home with pain meds or a basic antibiotic.

    You have to be proactive for yourself and your child and make sure that you ask enough questions about the diagnosis, treatment etc. I tend to be leery about doctors who act like I am asking too many questions or don’t want to listen to what I have to say or act like they are too busy, so trust your gut if something does not sound or feel right about any office visit. Being misdiagnosed for pneumonia before taught me a valuable lesson and that was after blood work and x-rays, good thing my doctor called me to go back to ed for additional testing as he concluded I definitely had pneumonia or a lung clot that required surgery, just by looking at x-rays. that is one example of the same info being available to 2 different doctors and one dismissing it as nothing and the other without even seeing me knowing something was wrong.

  • am

    This is sad. What people don’t understand about the flu or any other virus is that if you have any thing else going on with you that compromises your immune system like asthma you can die from the flu. If you are generally healthy you can fight it off. The vaccine is not 100% I work in an organization where the shot was mandatory and two docs have already had the flu and one even broke her rib while sick because she was coughing so bad.

  • am

    This is sad. What people don’t understand about the flu or any other virus is that if you have any thing else going on with you that compromises your immune system like asthma you can die from the flu. If you are generally healthy you can fight it off. The vaccine is not 100% I work in an organization where the shot was mandatory and two docs have already had the flu and one even broke her rib while sick because she was coughing so bad.

  • Kenedy

    This is why i hate ER’s. They are underfunded, understaffed & as a result don’t take anything seriously….unfortunately for many people with no health insurance, this is the only option. Avoid them if you can people,even urgent care is better, even though nurse practitioners & PA’s tend to work there more than actual doctors, they still pay better attention to you. This is so sad, RIP

  • Kenedy

    This is why i hate ER’s. They are underfunded, understaffed & as a result don’t take anything seriously….unfortunately for many people with no health insurance, this is the only option. Avoid them if you can people,even urgent care is better, even though nurse practitioners & PA’s tend to work there more than actual doctors, they still pay better attention to you. This is so sad, RIP

  • kierah

    Stop being an alarmist about the flu and the vaccine. She had flu-like symptoms. That doesn’t mean she had the flu.

    This is truly heartbreaking. Condolences to the family. For the rest of us, it’s a reminder that you have to be your own healthcare advocate. If you can, avoid ERs for basic treatment. See your own physician.

    • gmarie

      I agree. The ER today is just there to stabilize the patient and send them back home asap. Your primary care physician is the best bet if that option is available to you

  • DCgirlygirl

    This reminds me of when I was college, a girl i was friends with got sick and it seemed like a bad flu. went to the doctor, they gave her cold/flu meds. She didn’t get better and went back and they put her on antibiotics or something. She didn’t get better and after about a week it got so bad she drove herself to the emergency room and it turns out that she had pneumonia and had to stay in the hospital for at least 3-4 days. She had been misdiagosed twice. Luckily she got better. I’m really sorry to hear about this little girl and everything her family is going through, but with the flu being extra bad this season, every should be more vigilant and monitor those symptons and not assume that whatever a doctor will give you bring the fever down will work.

    • KamJos

      My college health center was HORRIBLE. I had an ear and throat infection at the same time and they misdiagnosed it as a cold. Luckily it was during winter break so when my fever shot up to 103 I was back with my parents and had access to decent medical care. Considering the excellent health care I get in graduate school I don’t know how I managed to survive that period in college.

  • JaneDoe

    Wit all whats going on in the news about the flu I would assume her parents would have taken a more serious approach.. This flu thats going around mean serious business..

  • Charla

    The article left out if the child received the flu shot or not. Did she? If not the parents are more to blame than the hospital.

    • So Sad

      She did not get the shot. In recent weeks her entire family had the flu. He little sister (age 5) had it the week before, they took her to a different hospital where she was treated and checked for the flu. Sadly they took this lil angel to another hospital that failed her…

      • Charla

        Thanks for the info!

      • Kam

        A co-workers mom works at this hospital and she said they received a reprimand from the state for their Emergency Room (over crowded, understaffed) last year. I just don’t understand why they didn’t take her to Children’s Medical. She would have been admitted and treated. RIP sweet little girl, and prayer’s to the family.

    • JB#3

      I think the point is that Tahlia was suffering from something other than the flu but since she had flu like symptoms they assumed it was the flu and sent her home without checking. Many illnesses start out with flu-like symptoms.

      • Charla

        But Zyrtec is for a sinus infections ans allergies so it seems like they were treating something other than the flu and not treating the flu itself.

    • afroveda

      That’s a ridiculous thing to say. There are some vaccines a child will get based on age, but the flu vaccine isn’t one of them. It’s optional for both children and adults. There are several side effects to the vaccine for children including irritability, rhinitis, fever, cough, loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, muscle aches and sore throat. The vaccine also isn’t foolproof.

      • Charla

        The parents are trying to place most of the blame on the hospital and I’m just saying they have some of the blame too. I’m sure they would have rather taken the side effects of the vaccine than deal with the results of not taking it.

        • SheBe

          I disagree to a certain extent. The parents sought the help of medical “professionals” because they knew the child was ill. The hospital failed to do their part in properly identifying her illness and treating it. Many diseases, some cancers for example, start off with flu like symptoms. The vaccine is an option and even if taken, as with all vaccines, is not a guarantee that you won’t get ill from whatever the vaccine is meant to prevent. It lessens the symptoms/severity and even then it’s not foolproof.

          • Charla

            All vaccinations are optional. Children don’t have to get vaccinations but most schools won’t take them without them. And the fact remains that most ppl with the flu shot do not get the flu. ERs are overcrowded and misdiagnosis may happen. But if the entire family just had the flu as parents they should have requested more. I had a horrible experience at an ER with my child and I knew the doctor was wrong so I requested an ambulance to take my child to another hospital. That hospital diagnosed my child properly.

            • SheBe

              My point was that she was being treated for “flu-like” symptoms and not “the flu”. The vaccine at this point is irrelevant and so is placing the blame at this point on anyone let alone the parents; at least until a true cause of death is examined.

        • gmarie

          I don’t agree with this. Whether this child had the vaccination or not is here nor there. As a child (children and elderly people are most at risk of death from the flu) the hospital should have taken more precaution to treat the patient thoroughly. They know what time she entered the hospital, they know how long the family waited to be treated, what’s another 20-30 minutes to check her out efficiently and run the correct tests? Many people develop the flu even after receiving the vaccination and still need to be treated by medical professionals. Bottom line is the med staff dropped the ball here. The argument of what the parents could or should have done is out the door at this point. They did what they were supposed to by taking their child in to be treated for what had already transpired

      • JaneDoe

        I just called for my son to get an appointment to get his shot and based on his age the vaccine is not available and won’t be for another two weeks

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