We received a call from a 12 year old school girl’s family. This
young girl reported having a headache to her teacher at her elementary
school. The teacher told her to “put her head down on your desk”.
Later that day, the child continued to complain of headaches while she
was in the library. Once again, she was told to put her head down on the
table. Later, in the early afternoon, the child continued to exhibit signs
of a headache. The only different action that was taken was that the teacher
pulled her desk next to the teacher’s desk and had her put her head
down in the front of the room. At approximately 2:00 p.m. the girl’s
face went numb and the school’s teacher finally had the girl report
to the office. The office contacted the young girl’s parents and
asked the father to come pick up the child. At this point, the young girl
began convulsing and vomiting.
An ambulance still had not been called.
Ultimately it was felt that the child was suffering a stroke. During her
3 week admission to the hospital, it was confirmed that the she had suffered
a ruptured aneurism. She is now paralyzed on one side of her body. After
substantial physical therapy and rehabilitation, she has regained some
movement on her left side. However she cannot use her left arm, her left
hand or her left foot. There are several sources of controversy in this
case. The first one has to do with whether or not earlier intervention
would have resulted in therapy and/or treatment that would have lessened
the complications resulting from the ruptured aneurism. Additionally,
as this scenario occured in a public school, there will be the question
of sovereign immunity and the issue of whether or not the teacher, librarian
and office staff were using discretion or whether there was a law, rule,
regulation, etc. that was violated (ministerial decision).