A 12-year-old California girl has died after she was reportedly misdiagnosed as having the flu, when she actually had a deadly strep infection.
Just days after she received a flu diagnosis at Kaweah Delta Medical Center in Visalia, California, Alyssa Alcaraz died of a strep infection on December 17, according to her family and media reports. The child died of cardiac arrest caused by septic shock.
Alcaraz was first misdiagnosed after she was sent home from school suffering from nausea and vomiting. After being incorrectly diagnosed, she was prescribed ibuprofen and cough syrup and told to rest for several days. However, her condition continued to deteriorate and she was rushed back to the hospital.
Once there, her fluids were being tested when she went into cardiac arrest and died. It was several days later when the lab at the funeral home informed the family that she had not had the flu, but instead had a strep infection that had turned septic.
The misdiagnosis comes amid a particularly harsh flu season, which has hit 45 states and killed at least 27 people under the age of 65. California has reportedly been particularly hard hit. However, her family indicates that the strep infection could have been discovered by a simple blood test before she began to suffer from sepsis and septic shock.
Sepsis kills about 200,000 Americans each year, but recent survey found that 60% of Americans were unfamiliar with the term; a number that is consistent with surveys of the rest of the world’s population. Lack of knowledge can be fatal, as septic shock strikes rapidly, and a correct diagnosis of the ailment early on can be the difference between life and death.
Sepsis occurs when the body overreacts to an infection, causing the immune system to begin damaging the body’s own tissues as well as combating foreign bacteria.
Currently, only about 70% of patients diagnosed with septic shock walk out of U.S. hospitals alive. That is because every hour that treatment is delayed lowers the rate of survival by about 8%, yet many hospitals fail to immediately diagnose sepsis and do not begin providing appropriate treatment for four to six hours.
Symptoms of septic shock are often vague, including:
- Shortness of breath
- Increase heart rate
- Declining blood pressure