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Medical examiner: Nine-year-old boy dies after outpatient surgery; oxycodone sent out for testing

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MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office is investigating the death of a nine-year-old boy.

The child was found unresponsive at a home in the neighborhood near Locust and Pierce on February 9th, shortly after returning home from an outpatient tonsillectomy.

The child was transported to Children’s Hospital after he was found unresponsive, where he was pronounced brain dead on February 12th.

The preliminary manner of death has been ruled “undetermined” by the medical examiner.

An autopsy was scheduled for Tuesday, February 16th.

According to the medical examiner’s report, the child’s father indicated the child had been dealing with tonsillitis since November of 2015. A decision was made to have the child’s tonsils removed. This was done on February 9th at a clinic near 106th and Oklahoma Avenue.

The report indicates the child was given a dose of oxycodone while at the clinic, and he was reportedly sleepy afterwards.

The child was discharged from the clinic and brought home, and later given another dose of oxycodone by his mother per the instructions, which called for 4.8 ml by mouth every four hours as needed for pain.

The child became tired again and laid down on the couch. Shortly thereafter, the child’s parents noticed his breathing was labored and “sounded odd.” The mother called the surgical outpatient center to speak with a nurse, but within a couple of minutes, the father requested that 911 be called.

When the child was taken to Children’s Hospital, the report indicates the oxycodone he was prescribed was brought to the hospital, and a sample of the medication was sent out to a third party to be tested.

Toxicology testing will be performed in this case as well, according to the medical examiner’s report.

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16 comments

  • Lorett

    R.I.P. sweet boy!😦 Why would a tonsillectomy require giving many doses of such strong drugs? In old days kids ate ice cream for a couple of days and they would be just fine. This is just outrageous.

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    • Jamie S.

      To Dan,
      How are you expecting the child recover? A miracle of God? Opioids are all we have for post surgical pain control, and nearly every single of them has their dosing protocol based on weight. If you think acetaminophen or ibuprofen is going to take care f it, you’re a moron. Chances are it was an accidental overdose via an measurement by the parents. My heart goes out his his grieving family and love ones, find solace that he passed in peace if you can.

      • Julia Gulia

        This surgery center wanted to prescribe my 10 yr old oxycodone also for an outpatient surgery. I refused and told them I would like a small amount of Tylenol with codeine to be prescribed. They said they don’t use that anymore and they would need to find a doctor to “physically” write a paper prescription for me. My husband and I said we would wait. Turns out we never filled the prescription and ibuprofen worked fine. How are children going to learn to deal with pain if they never experience it? Our daughter survived a heroin addiction by the strength of own will and the grace of God. We have been to many funerals that started with a broken collarbone from snowboarding oxycodone prescription into a heroin overdose. Wake up America and be your childs advocate.

      • Joshalynn Alene Benjamin

        oxycodone is not supposed to be given to children of his age. Adults have a hard time handling oxycodone let alone a child at nine years old. Normal medication for this surgery is tylenol with codeine. i know this because i have a degree in the medical field and I would have questioned the doctor because this drug is not for children. Sorry the parents didn’t do anything wrong but the doctor should be held accountable

      • Rose

        I had ACL surgery when I was 18. Yes, I had pain but it was perfectly managed by ibuprofen. The younger you are the higher the pain tolerance. Narcotics have their place.

      • Realistically Speaking

        A bunch of “medical doctors” giving “medical advice.” Stick behind your screen and let doctors do what they’re paid to do and gone to school for. Everyone handles pain differently.
        “Kids have a high pain tolerance” and you know this how?

      • Anthony

        Children Tylenol is best for age 9. Definitely no dose of oxycodone!!!

        My prayers are with this family.

        A.Thompson

    • Lisa

      Oxycodone for children is a different strenth/concentration and dosed according to weight.
      Everyone has a different pain tolerance and circumstances. If the child had recent infections that would and usually does increase the pain signicantly. Some do great with just Tylenol or ibuprofen but some need something stronger. Both children and adults.

  • tliz

    So sad! And to those who say the child should not have been given drugs, please filter yourselves. We do not know the level of pain the child was having after surgery. A tonsillectomy is not a minor procedure, despite being common. We live in a world where kids don’t have voices and are not allowed to have their own feelings, so a lot of kids are not even treated adequately for post op pain. Ask an adult how their tonsillectomy recovery was and they will tell you it is very painful. The parents don’t need to feel guilty for giving their kid pain relief and these comments can be really damaging. If you know anything about surgery and pain, you would know that pain can slow down the healing process, so the benefit outweighs the risk if that is what he needed. Some kids might be able to eat ice cream and take tylenol and that is enough, but I bet most need more than that. Also some people cannot tolerate Motrin and it can cause GI bleeding, so doctors have limited options outside of opiates for pain relief. I took oxycodone last week after some simple biopsies, which some would say I should not have needed. But nobody can say how someone else feels pain unless they are the one feeling it. Anyways, if his family is reading this, I just want to say I am SO SORRY and I pray to god that you can find peace in the fact that he peacefully went to sleep. You did not do anything wrong and you did the best you knew to do.

  • tliz

    Maybe his pain was not controlled enough with tylenol, we don’t know why they gave him oxycodone. If you are in the medical field, then you would know that pain is relative and you cannot give this kind of advice over the internet.

  • Michael Neils

    All I had was ibuprofen back in the day. And that was too hard to swallow so I toughed it out. It was no worse of a sore throat then I’d had every darn winter, spring and fall for my entire life till those babies were out. All I knew was I’d never get tonsillitis again. Was a happy camper. Haven’t had one since unless the air is super dry. Oxy seems kind over doing it. That poor family. Some of you have posted oxy is common for this. I hope not.

  • Carmella Saab

    The liquid measure markings on the devices should be clearly visible and not obscured when the liquid product is added to the device. properly measure 4.8 ml . Did they use a medicine cup droppers, syringes, or spoons, did they show the mother how to measure the correct dosage.

  • Jess

    If insurance companies would pay for a overnight stay at the hospital maybe this kid would still be alive! I think it should be a law that children who have surgery must be kept a night or two for observation! Opiates suppress breathing especially in children a hospital could have taken care of his pain and discomfort.

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