PSA To Parents: Step 1 After Your Child Is Shot Is Not Checking WebMD

from the seriously? dept

There’s been some hand-wringing in the past about online services like Wikipedia and WebMD and how patients and families use them to do self-diagnosis. Much of this seemed to be drummed up media attention, since you have to imagine the vast majority of medical patients are intelligent enough to listen to the advice of their doctors, Chicago Bulls players notwithstanding. Every once in a while, however, you’ll get a story of someone who decided to trust information found online over medical personnel, typically regarding minor medical issues.

Even more rarely, you find a real treasure in the form of someone lacking so much in common sense that you have to wonder how they manage to get out of bed in the morning. For example, I’m not yet a parent, but I’m pretty sure that if my child suffered from lead poisoning caused by someone wielding a freaking pistol, my first reaction would be to take my child to the hospital. Not so if you’re this mother in Texas, apparently, since she decided to hop on the old interwebz to see what WebMD advised for gunshot wounds.

Despite the shooting taking place around 6:30 PM on Tuesday, it wasn’t until 2 AM on Wednesday that the boy’s mother finally brought him to Mainland Medical Center for treatment. She had apparently spent the previous hours looking up “gunshot wound” on WebMD.

And that brings to mind the two obvious questions. First, why isn’t there an entry for “gunshot wound” on WebMD that simply reads, “Go to the damned hospital, you moron!”? And second, exactly how much searching is required on WebMD before you come to that conclusion anyway? One hour? Two? Three? This mother-of-the-year candidate has to account for seven and a half hours! One assumes she spent at least four of those looking for the “any” key on her computer, right?

Fortunately, investigators are now saying they may charge the mother with a felony being-stupid or some such thing. Here’s hoping they get that child out of her house and into a safer environment, like the tiger pit at their nearest zoo.

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Comments on “PSA To Parents: Step 1 After Your Child Is Shot Is Not Checking WebMD”

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Akari Mizunashi (profile) says:


Hit up any of these sites and do a search on “hand rash”.

It’ll take you about two seconds to realize why someone can easily spend 7 hours on these sites.

Finding a post that’s not ridiculous is getting to the point of impossible.

And that’s after you wade through all the “Doctor’s are evil and only want to push pills for kickbacks!” posts.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Health Care

But it’s not an exposed fracture. A gunshot wound has the potential to be a very serious injury, but in a large meaty area with no organs (like the leg), it’s not necessarily a life-threatening injury. If it’s a small bullet that didn’t hit an artery or a bone (and the fact that the kid survived that long without going to the hospital implies that this is the case) it’s really just a deep puncture. You can do most of the same things at home that they would do at the hospital – stop the bleeding with pressure, close the wound with stitches, etc. There could be later complications from infection or if the bullet remained in the wound, but thousands of people walk around every day with bullets or shrapnel still inside them.

Even knowing the medical realities, i would not think twice about calling 911, but poverty changes everything. They were probably weighing that against the financial hardship and the legal troubles that a visit to the hospital would bring. It’s easy for us to sit behind computer screens and call them idiots, but for most of us, going to the hospital is not a bankruptcy event, and going to the hospital means involving the police, which means not only the shooter going to jail, but possibly the mom too. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if the teenager, faced with the possibility of ending up in the foster care system told his mom not to take him to the hospital.

I have no problem with the way things are playing out in the case. I think the arrest and a DCFS review is definitely in order, but i’m not willing to condemn the mom and her choices with very few facts to go on. The guy who was “playing” with the gun? Yeah, fuck that guy – put him in jail.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Health Care

Indeed. I have direct contact with poverty (while I’m not even nearly poor myself) and I can understand what you are saying. Poverty feeds itself in a vicious cycle. A poor person can’t focus on developing to get a better life because he/she will always be worried with those small fires that pop everywhere and tend to become huge just because the condition of being poor make them hard to put out. Still, people can and do go for the public health system and maybe that’s where my reality gets disconnected from the US.

In any case, they had a computer and an internet connection. They also had a gun. I’m guessing the mother delayed taking the teen to the hospital to prevent the shooter from being charged. Poverty might have played a smaller role but I don’t think so.

AzureSky (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Health Care

Ninja, I can tell you, here, they will treat you even if you dont sign paperwork saying you will pay for it(legally they have to) but, they wont give you the same level of care as if you had good insurnace, and they charge you FAR FAR more, many times they even get ahold of peoples info anyway and send them to collections despite the person refusing to sign paperwork.

heres an example, Walmart fucked up my medication once(wrong pills in the bottle), whatever they gave me caused vazio dilation body wide, I effectivly passed out at a restrant (i wasnt totally out but i couldnt move/function and i shat myself), the ambulance ride alone was over 1800usd….for a ride that took me all of 3 miles and involved them helping me onto a gerny and giving me fluids….(that i didnt ask for)

by the time i got to the hosp i was FINE, the hosp bill for fluids and sitting in the hall for HOURS(4) was over 12k….they did give me an eeg, but thats not an expensive test to do….how do they justfy 12k for that?

their excuse is that im paying for people who dont have insurance, but the fact is, its also that they arent happy with some insurances paying less then is billed out….so they send alot of us to bankrupsy……

I can see how this kinda thing could happen evne to a middle class family, but I do agree not wanting to get somebody arrested was probably part of it….

another note: unless contaminated intentionally, a bullet is so hot when it leaves most guns its sterile (if you use hollow points and shove stuff in the tip, this isnt true), I have seen a few idiots shoot themselves in leggs/feet/exct, and honestly in most cases the doctors just pack it off and let it heal, if the bullets inside, they consider the cost and risks of removing it, if you got good insurnace, it will come out, if not, its quite likely they will leave it in if they think they can get away with it.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Health Care

Ninja, I can tell you, here, they will treat you even if you dont sign paperwork saying you will pay for it(legally they have to) but, they wont give you the same level of care as if you had good insurnace, and they charge you FAR FAR more, many times they even get ahold of peoples info anyway and send them to collections despite the person refusing to sign paperwork.

I see. Here in Brazil when you use private health/hospitals it’s the same. They even discriminate among the various types of health plans. I explain: it’s a tad different, we rarely use health insurance but rather we pay a monthly fee that varies with the coverage of the plan and then when we need to use it we don’t pay a cent. However we are seeing the same problem with health care costs and consequently with health plan costs. The sad part is that we do have a public health system that’s generally worse than crap (although SOME cities do it right and SOME public facilities are high quality).

the ambulance ride alone was over 1800usd

HOLY SHIT! And I thought the $400 I paid here for a 10 minute ride in a basic equipped ambulance (I just needed transport) was a lot.

Machin Shin (profile) says:

Re: Re: Health Care

Yes it is a gunshot wound, but without more details that means nothing. Technically if a bullet grazes you and gives you a little cut, that is a “gunshot wound”, but it is hardly worth a hospital visit.

I am assuming this case was a bit more serious but the point is a “gunshot” is about like a knife wound. It can range from a little booboo that needs a kiss to make it better to “oh shit I’m gonna die”.

Some Other AC (profile) says:

Re: Re: Health Care

As a resident of Texas, there are a large number of us that realized a long, long time ago, that Rick Perry and his ilk are ignorant morons. Unfortunately, my state is full of them all willing to vote for him and his kind.
I view my self as a centrist in my political views. Each Ideology has positive ideas and each has really bad ones.
One of these days, I hope that Darwin addresses this dearth of idiots here and allows those of us who actually think, investigate and use common sence(now known as a Super Power) to actually affect change. Until then, I will keep SMDH and occasionally ROFL at the idiots.
Final thought…there are some really good people here, try not to think too unkindly of those who actually use the brain within our skulls.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“Probably part of the delay isn’t just her being an idiot, but her not having health insurance. Yet people still insist we have the best healthcare system in the world, even while 50 million people don’t have health insurance.”

Actually, the number of insured has increased from 255.3 million to 256.2 million since ObamaCare was implemented (and will continue to increase further as more elements are put in place).
What you’re not counting is that the total number of people in the US has increased as well.
(We’re not at “zero-growth” where one person is born for every person who dies. At least, not yet.)

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Actually the US health system is known to be trash around the world (which I think it’s kind of hyperbolic because it’s not that bad although it’s expensive and lacks coverage).

People I know who live in the US come back to Brazil for treatment depending on the health issues they experience. The most recurring complaint is that doctors in the US simply don’t look at the patient and do basic examinations. They just ask for diagnostic exams and that’s it. And honestly Brazil is kind of following the same path. Some diseases will need more than just diagnostic exams, they’ll need basic conversation to check things that aren’t apparent. Patients usually tend to disregard minor symptoms that may help disambiguate the overall clinical state.

I’m not sure why it happens. For a while I thought it was the sue-happy behavior of the Americans that was making the doctors wary and much more careful but I tend to think it’s this complex relation between health insurance, hospitals, doctors and lawsuits.

Jay (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

The government can’t negotiate prove for the people so we party “what the market will bear”.

Look at Lipitor prices in America compared to France and Spain. Most people in the EU pay $15-$20.

We have to pay $150 on average.

So most of our money goes to an industry that wouldn’t survive without the profit motive and gives us subquality care at monopoly prices.

AzureSky says:

Re: Re: Re:

its also because big pharma have paid well to change how doctors practic and even taught, doctors use to be taught to talk to patients and diagnose many things without running a million tests.

now they are taught in school to just run tests and to give people drugs to treat symptoms rather then cure problems.

treatment drugs=money
cures=alot less money.

remember this, cures arent the goal of big pharma and the medical profession these days, the goal is to keep people coming back and keep them on medications as long as possible.

we are never going to see cures for anything thats treatment is lucrative like aids and cancer, because, and lets be honest here…..theres a shitload of money to be made from “Treatment”.

i got abuddy who had chronic problems that came up regularly a couple times a year, over 2 decades of that here where doctors here would just give him antibiotics and such….we moved to china (job transfer), went to see a doctor, the fellow spoke broken engrish but, and this is the really shocking part, he talked to him, did some tests, took some blood and looked at it right there….

my buddy had a parasite that antibiotics would cause to go dormant, the chinese doctor gave him 1 modern medication and 3 concoctions of herbs and such, one being a tea that smalled like “yack piss” (what his chinese friends called it), after that treatment, hes been years without another incident….seems cured…..

had a doctor looked at his blood rather then ordering automated tests they could have cured him here decades ago….but theres no money in the cure…..

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Not to worry. Obama and congress have made sure that, even if you’re having trouble putting food on the table, putting gas in your car, paying your bills, and making ends meet, you WILL buy health insurance or, by gum, pay a hefty tax penalty. What a compassionate government.
On another note, what does healthcare have to do with insurance? The healthcare industry is the healthcare industry and the insurance industry is the insurance industry.

Anonymous Coward says:

I’m not sure I agree.

Ideally an online service like that should provide quick and simple steps (applying pressure to wounds or an answer to the old take it out/leave it in corundum) that buy a wounded person vital time to make it to the hospital.

7 and a half hours is a bit much however, maybe she should get better internet.

Dave (profile) says:

Not to get too off-topic, but...

I wouldn’t take any cheap shots at Derrick Rose until one of his teammates calls him out first, and that’s clearly not happening:

Team doctors are paid by team OWNERS, not players. There’s a long history of team doctors bending rules to get players back on the field/court/ice too quickly. If Derrick Rose thinks the advice he’s getting will hurt his career in the long-term (he’s only 24), then I’m giving him a pass.

Besides, these Bulls are not beating the Heat with or without Derrick Rose, so why pin the blame solely on him?

Stuart Gray says:

Re: well well

They are a bit judgmental.
On one hand if my kid took a bullet wound to the arm either grazing or through and through and he was not bleeding badly … Well if not for the fact that the kid would be removed from my custody as soon as the delay was known I might want to see if it can be handled at home.
Especially if I did not have insurance.
On the other hand if you bring your child into a hospital with a gunshot wound it will be a while before they get around to asking you about insurance.
US health care has always been great. They will save your life. You may get a bill later that will bankrupt you but at least you will be alive to bitch about it.

PRMan says:

Re: Re:

Patently ridiculous. Of course there are remedies for a “gunshoot” wound depending on how serious it is.

Did the bullet graze you? Then it’s really just a cut.

Did it go in and out? Then it’s 2 puncture wounds, but if it didn’t break any bones or puncture any organs, then it could be possible to treat it at home.

It’s easy to judge because we’re not poor. But it’s not as clear-cut as Tim is trying to make it.

Anonymous Coward says:

More than likely, the mother will be charged with ‘endangering the safety of a minor’ for not getting her child to the hospital.

Just what kind of moron doesn’t call “911” over their child being shot? You do NOT get online and consult an internet website. Common sense should reign supreme and your first impulse should be to call emergency services to your home.

Atkray (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The kid was shot in the thigh. If the bullet just went in flesh, then the wound would be like a puncture wound and might not have even bled very much.

It states in the original article the boy was up and walking around.

The 14 year old was shot by a 24 year old who lives in the same house. I suspect mom may have realized the 24 year old was going to jail if she went to the hospital, she may not have wanted that.

As mentioned previously, cost of hospital visit.

There are many understandable reasons she may have been reluctant to go to the hospital. Not that she was justified, but I believe it is understandable.

Anonymous Coward says:

How to treat a gunshot wound:

Method 1:
Look around and check if there are medkits lying around. If there are, try walking over one.

Method 2:
Try yelling “Medic!” or “Excuse me! I’m in need of medical attention!” and see if a doctor wielding a nailgun shows up. If he does, make sure his shirt color matches yours before he applies “treatment”.

Method 3:
If your vision is obscured by a pulsing red glow, try waiting it out. The wound will heal itself, unless you take damage from other sources.

/Disclaimer: It’s been a while since I needed to treat gunshot wounds, so might knowledge might be a little outdated

Anonymous Coward says:

just one point- I have actually searched WebMD for gunshot wound, and the first entry? puncture wound, which says it is for sharp, pointed objects ( thus, not a gunshot wound) and says to check symptoms to see if you need to see a doctor. Therefore, you can see how someone with just a little knowledge could make a serious mistake. (a search for “gun” is even less helpful. same for gunshot)

so, WebMD really should put a simple page up on gunshot wounds (step 1: call an ambulance), but the woman was stupid.

Anonymous Coward says:

“Not so if you’re this mother in Texas, apparently, since she decided to hop on the old interwebz to see what WebMD advised for gunshot wounds.”

There are two possibilities here.

1. A person is in a location where hospitals and medical attention are readily available. Fortunately that covers a majority of people in the US if one looks at this from a population perspective.

2. A person is NOT in a location where hospitals and medical attention are readily available. Unfortunately that covers a majority of physical locations in the US especially west of the Mississippi River and east of the continental divide.

If the latter, option 2, is the case here this has to be the dunnest most stupid comment ever put forth by a over educated idiot who has no concept of life outside of a major population area and if presented with the requirement to actually survive in a desolate location would kill themself by some stupid stunt or action the very first day.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

Santa Fe is located about half way between Galveston, home of the UTMB Center and Houston home of the Texas Medical Center and MANY other hospitals scattered throughout the city including the suburb of Clear Lake City which is about 5-10 minutes away. So, nah. No hospitals anywhere near there.

Anonymous Coward says:

I do have to say that it probably had something to do with cost. With out insurance, going to the hospital is pretty much a sentence to slavery. Garnished wages and unable to take out loans can limit a person for the majority of their life. So the way I see it is she was not thinking and took 7.5 hours or she was extremely desperate.

Mr. Applegate says:

I am fairly certain the real reason was...

…to avoid getting the shooter in trouble, and perhaps the parent as well.

They probably thought it was an accident and didn’t want anyone to get into trouble by going to the hospital.

You know I always get pissed off when I hear about cases like this. Gun Safety 101 – If you can’t follow these basic rules guns are not for you.

Rule 1
ALWAYS treat a gun as if it is loaded! It is NOT a toy.

Rule 2
NEVER point a gun at anything/anyone you don’t intend to shoot!

Rule 3
ALWAYS check to see if a gun is loaded when you first pick the weapon up (Don’t forget rule 1 no matter what you find) and ALWAYS check to make sure it is not loaded before you store the weapon.

For those that EVER have children in a home
Rule 4
NEVER Keep ammunition and weapons in the same place

Rule 5
Always keep both ammunition and weapons locked up and inaccessible by youth.

I do tech work for a local theater and we have used real guns and blanks in several shows recently. Even with blanks the guns are treated as what they are a dangerous prop. The prop master securely stores weapon and ammo, and loads and hands the weapon to the actor just before it is needed. the actor uses the weapon and immediately returns it to the prop master.

Comboman says:

Re: I am fairly certain the real reason was...

Congratulations for being the only one here (including Mr. Geigner) to surmise the real reason for this tragedy. Doctors and hospitals are required by law to report all gun-related (or suspected gun-related) injuries to the police. The mother obviously knew that.

Anonymous Coward says:

Being poor myself, I understand why the mother spent all that time on WebMD. I waited several days to go in despite the fact that I thought my heart was stopping every minute or two and I was having trouble breathing. All the time I was researching my condition online. And cursing closed source journals. On the plus side, I learned a lot about heart disease.

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