The Medical Advice That Almost Killed Our Baby


baby home from the ER and ICU - eight months oldHere’s the story behind our baby’s seizures and the medical advice that almost killed him. Early Halloween morning, baby threw up and had a fever. When my wife told me, I wasn’t alarmed. As a dad of four kids, I’ve had more than my share of kids with fever. Plus I had the baby all to myself from 10 pm to 1 am the previous night. He slept in my arms for a couple hours and played for the other hour. When I handed baby off to my wife for his feeding, he was fine and happy. He didn’t appear to be the least bit sick.

That morning, my wife called the HMO and told the advice nurse about baby’s fever and vomiting. The nurse told my wife not to bring baby in unless he has bluish discolorations. The nurse also told my wife to take off baby’s clothes to cool him down, but do not give him any Tylenol because the acetaminophen might make him throw up again.

So while I was out and about with the other three kids (Chinese school and Target), my wife stayed home with baby. When I got back, baby was lying on the carpet twitching while my wife was on the phone with the 911 operator. At first I thought baby had hiccups. His seizures were not the violent shaking kind you see on TV. Then I noticed his eyes were rolled back. At that point, I felt someone ripping my heart out of my chest and I thought, “oh no, our baby is dying!”

After what seemed like an eternity, the paramedics finally arrived. They injected baby with anti-seizure medication. When his seizure didn’t stop, they took him to the ER. At the hospital, the doctors there couldn’t get his seizures to stop either. So they transferred our baby to the ICU of a hospital that specializes in children. After several hours, baby’s seizures finally stopped at the children’s hospital.

While our baby was still in the hospital last Monday, we found out he tested positive for H1N1. The virus caused baby’s fever, which in turn caused his seizures. The doctors at both hospitals were surprised the advice nurse told my wife not to give our baby any Tylenol. They didn’t say it out loud, but I could tell by the way they were eyeing each other they thought we were given bad advice. Plus they kept asking us the same question about the Tylenol to make sure it wasn’t written down incorrectly on the charts. And in a visit to baby’s doctor a couple days ago, the doctor told my wife he can understand why the advice nurse told her not to administer any Tylenol. But if it was him, he would have gone with the Tylenol to lower baby’s temperature.

Right now, my wife is mad at herself for not giving baby any Tylenol. But it’s not her fault. Without the benefit of hindsight, I would have followed the advice nurse’s instructions too. After all, the advice nurse is a medical professional and I’m not. But after our near-death experience, I strongly recommend to dads and moms to think twice before withholding Tylenol from kids when they have a high fever. In my non-medical opinion, seizures are much, much worst than vomiting.

The good news is baby seems to be doing well. Because he had seizures on and off for six hours, baby has appointments later this month for a MRI, EEG, and neurology. Hopefully the doctors won’t find anything wrong. He already has enough health problems to deal with. He doesn’t need anymore.


30 thoughts on “The Medical Advice That Almost Killed Our Baby

  1. Oh my goodness!
    The advice nurse was probably reading from a manual that has a flow chart in it. If baby has fever over a certain temp. then give Tylenol. If baby is vomiting then do not give Tylenol. I’m sure they don’t take in every single detail of the child’s sickness to make their decision. That’s what is sad. Like your wife, Mom’s rely on the advice nurse to give them Good Advice. Not read from some chart or manual. Every situation is different.
    I’m glad to hear that Disney is feeling better. What a scary time for you and Mommy!
    .-= peepnroosmom´s last blog ..Welcome Earthling. =-.

  2. I had to reread the part about withholding tylenol because I thought it was a weird thing to do especially if the baby has a high fever. Having four kids myself, it’s almost instinctual to break out that medicine when our kids have fevers. I’m really glad that he’s doing better. I will be praying for him and your family for negative results on the upcoming tests.

    Are you going to call the HMO Nurseline and talk with someone. Whether it’s to let them know the displeasure personally or not. But to let them know that the information they are giving is potentially dangerous.

    1. We’re still exploring our options, but we have a feeling the HMO will tell us the baby could still have had seizures even if we gave him Tylenol.

      We usually give our kids Tylenol for fever, but we figure the nurse knew what he was doing.

  3. I’m so grateful he’s okay. These medical moments can traumatize us all in ways you can’t understand, just experience. I hope your wife can find peace in knowing she did all the right things to help her baby. So glad you’re all recovering.

    .-= Holly Schwendiman´s last blog ..Halloween Part II =-.

  4. Next time you should go with our gut instinct. Giving him anti fever medication may have stopped him overheating and then he might not have had the seizures. Or not… you will never know now.
    I would be upset with the nurse anyway.

  5. When your child is so ill, it’s difficult to know who to trust. When one medical person gives you advice that goes against your intuition, do you trust your intuition, follow the advice, or seek another opinion? Hard to tell.

    We are always better parents in hindsight, but who knows? Sometimes the lone dissenting opinion turns out to be correct, even though it might seem to be bad advice.

    I’m glad your baby son is feeling better; tell your wife not to beat herself up over this. I know there are times when I still feel guilty over a hospitalization that my son had when he was six months old, but I also know I made the best decision I could given the circumstances at the time. She really needs to forgive herself.
    .-= Desert Songbird´s last blog ..Dona Nobis Pacem =-.

  6. My heart breaks. You could sue that stupid medical nurse. Argh! I hate stupid medical staff. They’re not supposed to be stupid about things like these. It could cost a life. I hope lil Disney gets well soon. B is sick too.
    .-= Kay´s last blog ..B is sick … =-.

    1. Our doctor doesn’t think it was stupid advice. He said it was a judgment call, but he would have gone with the Tylenol. Plus it would be hard for us to prove in court that our baby wouldn’t have had seizures even with the Tylenol.

  7. This post brought tears to my eyes and made me feel like I was going to throw up. The love that we feel for our children and the fear that we experience when they are in danger is so visceral that it really can’t be explained in words. I am so glad that Baby Disney is okay.
    .-= Anna´s last blog ..Our Talented Girl =-.

  8. I cannot imagine going through what you did. I would have followed the advice nurse’s instructions, too and probably felt just as you and your wife do now. I hope Little Disney is feeling much better and that you never have to go through something like this again.
    .-= Leslie´s last blog ..And Miles To Go Before I Sleep =-.

  9. I have great respect of the medical staff even to the house doctor but never rely to pay seriously to them, they often give you anxiety to crack down your head. here in holland some of medical workers few are sluggish and some are likely insane to give you expiremental medication that is not supposed to. if you got outstadding good doctor keep it nicely.

    I pray frank doing fine in progress..i really tell you i hate kids to see like these and i never watch anymore with gray anatomy even the actor was cute.

    God bless!
    .-= Ruthie´s last blog ..Classmate Is that You? =-.

  10. Oh my goodness! I’m so sorry to hear about this. I hope he is doing much better by now. I will keep you guys in my thoughts and prayers. I’m not even sure what to think about that nurse’s advice. Scary to think that the professionals who you put your trust in don’t always know the right answers.

    Our youngest (now age 9) started having seizures when he was 5. They were not fever-related. All his tests (MRI, CT, EEG) have been normal and they do not know the cause of the seizures. Since age 5, he has had around 20 seizures, luckily, they have all happened during the night during his sleep. But, still, it is just about the scariest thing to ever witness. The doctors are hopeful that it’s going to be something he outgrows. He is still on anti-seizure medicine and hasn’t had a seizure since last December.

    Take care!
    .-= Kari´s last blog ..More Holiday Shopping Gift Ideas ’09 =-.

  11. This came up during a google search. I’m sure you probably should have given the baby Tylenol in hindsight, but in case other parents are reading this from the web, you shouldn’t give a very young baby Tylenol for a fever without a doctor’s recommendation bc it could mask the symptoms of the illness and make it more difficult to diagnose.

  12. I’m shocked she didn’t say to try Ibuprofen. My baby always threw up Tylenol, and our doctor said to try switching to Ibuprofen. It worked. Well shame on that nurse. Sending you prayers for your little one.

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