Why Parents Really DO Need to Fear Local Anesthetic

emergency signAs a mom, I like to tell myself that what happened to 5-year-old Kensley Kirby occurs so rarely that I don't have to live in fear of my children meeting the same fate. But the truth is, anything can happen to anyone at anytime. Just ask Kensley's parents: They brought their little girl to an urgent care center for a broken arm ... and she ended up dying from an overdose of the local anesthetic lidocaine.

We don't know yet exactly how this happened, but it's extremely possible that human error killed Kensley; her parents are now considering filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the urgent care center.

The family's attorney, Pete Law, alleges that clinic workers made a fatal error in not transferring Kelsey to an Emergency Room (he was quoted as saying that the center should have "turned it over to someone able to handle this situation earlier"). If the reaction of the medical community is any indication, Law is right.


Message boards and forums all over the Internet are blowing up with incredulous comments from doctors and nurses: The urgent care center workers never should have attempted to set her arm in the first place! Even in Emergency Rooms, kids with broken bones are usually given only a temporary setting before being deferred to a pediatric orthopedist, preferably at a children's hospital.

Medical professionals also want to know why an urgent care center was administering local anesthetic at all. Though lidocaine toxicity is rare, it is a risk, and that's why equipment for emergency care is supposed to be immediately available whenever local anesthetic is administered. Urgent care centers typically don't have this equipment.

Kensley's death is incredibly tragic, and I can't imagine what her parents are going through right now. I can only hope that this horrible accident will result in stricter regulations regarding the administration of local anesthetics. Until it does, at least we know what the red flags are should we find ourselves in a similar situation.

Will you think twice before you take your kid to an urgent care center?


Image via Lydia/Flickr

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