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Woman's daughter denied medical care while suffering scorpion sting

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Woman's daughter denied medical care while suffering scorpion sting

By Darcy Spears. CREATED Jul 25, 2014

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- Picture this: You rush your screaming toddler to the emergency room, needing answers and fast. But the doctor won't see you because your child is crying.

Sounds ridiculous but it's one family's painful truth. As a local mom told Action News, she had to leave the emergency room to keep her daughter safe.

"This is where we're supposed to take our children when we think something's wrong and we don't know. We seek help," said Crystal Cross, who went into a state of emergency with her three-year-old daughter, Melanie, on June 25.

That morning Melanie was laying on the couch, watching cartoons, while her mom was just a few feet away making lunch. The next thing mom knew, Melanie was writhing on the floor and screaming.

"It's a gut wrenching cry that I don't think any mother should have to hear," said Crystal, breaking down into tears herself.  "It's just a severe, severe, pain, painful cry. And then she very quickly started vomiting the clear liquids."

Worried Melanie may have broken her elbow falling off the couch, Crystal rushed to Centennial Hospital. She took video with her cell phone to document Melanie's symptoms while they waited for the doctor.

"Here's my daughter just throwing her body all over the place and then a very short while later, just shaking and trembling in her entire body. Her eyes, I could tell something was going on because her eyes would start to roll back and then they would do this funny little wiggle."

All of those are symptoms of something everyone at Centennial seems to have missed. The medical records Crystal gave us don't show what was really wrong with Melanie.

We'll explain in a minute, but first, something you've got to see to believe: Though nurses were coming and going and trying to help, hospital records show the E.R. doctor was "Unwilling to talk to family until patient stops crying."

Another nursing note in the hospital record says the doctor demanded the nurse give Melanie something so she'd be quiet. The doctor's prescription? A Popsicle.

Crystal said the doctor finally did see Melanie, "And then the doctor had said that nothing is wrong with her elbow, that this was a tantrum in her opinion, and to seek parenting classes."

Crystal had had enough. She and Melanie left Centennial and headed for the pediatric E.R. at Sunrise Children's Hospital.

"Literally within five minutes, they had took one look at her before we even got all the way through the door, seen how bad she was convulsing and hysterically crying, rushed her right back and said, 'This is a classic scorpion sting.'"

Remember those symptoms Melanie had? The crying, vomiting, convulsing, abnormal eye movements and thrashing arms and legs? Both the FDA and Mayo Clinic websites list them all under scorpion stings.

And while they may just be painful for adults, scorpion stings can be life-threatening, especially in infants and children.

Crystal said the doctor at Sunrise told her this was a very close call.

"He said she should have died because the anti-venom should have been given within two to three hours."

Her records from Sunrise show Melanie had eight of the nine symptoms on the anti-venom list. Only three are required for treatment. She made a full recovery in a few days.

Crystal showed us a picture of the culprit, which she found when they got home from the hospital.  It was a bark scorpion, which is the only species considered dangerous to humans.

No one from Centennial Hospital would go on camera. They provided the following written statement:

"This issue has already undergone an investigation on multiple levels. The physician, who is not a hospital employee, but is employed by an independent emergency physician group, is no longer practicing at Centennial Hills Hospital. Her actions and attitude do not represent the patient care experience we strive to provide at our hospital. Once we learned of Ms. Cross's experience, we immediately contacted her to apologize and learn more details. Due to patient privacy laws, we cannot share additional information. We take our health care responsibilities very seriously and invite patients to contact their nurses or hospital management if they have concerns about the care they received during or after their hospital experience."

Contact 13 spoke to the physician group and they said the doctor has re-located out of the country.

Sunrise Hospital declined to comment.

If you suspect your child has been stung by a scorpion, consider going directly to a hospital with a dedicated pediatric emergency room where anti-venom is usually on hand.

Click here for FDA information on scorpion stings.

Symptoms of scorpion stings provided by Mayo Clinic.

Darcy Spears

Darcy Spears

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Darcy Spears is currently the Chief Investigative Reporter for Action News.