The Legal Examiner Mark The Legal Examiner Mark The Legal Examiner Mark search twitter facebook feed linkedin instagram google-plus avvo phone envelope checkmark mail-reply spinner error close
Skip to main content

Francine Rushton, 47, lost her life to the H1N1 swine flu on June 13th, and her death may very well have been preventable. Prior to her death, Rushton had twice visited the Jordan Valley Medical Center and both times she received a rapid diagnostic test to determine if she had swine flu. Both tests came back negative.

The rapid diagnostic tests, however, have a very high false negative result rate. But since she did not test positive, she did not qualify to receive Tamiflu treatment under state and federal guidelines, despite the high false negative rates and even though she had flu like symptoms and she lived with her mother who had tested positive for swine flu.

Rushton’s mother tested positive for swine flu on May 30th. Within 24 hours, Rushton was exhibiting the same symptoms so she went for her first test on May 31st. She was not getting better so she returned for her second test three days later. According to Rushton’s brother, Craig Whitehead, family members begged for Tamiflu therapy despite the results of the second test because of Rushton’s symptoms and because the therapy helped Rushton’s mother. Doctors at the hospital refused and sent Rushton on her way.

Another three days passed and Rushton’s health continued to decline. She returned to Jordan Valley and although she tested negative a third time for swine flu, doctors admitted her to the hospital. On June 9th, Rushton was transferred to Intermountain Medical Center (IMC) in critical condition. There she was tested for swine flu yet again and this time, the result was positive. But despite the heroic efforts of those at IMC, treatment at that point could not save Rushton.

The rapid flu antigen tests have an accuracy rate of between 50 and 70 percent as opposed to the laboratory completed virus tests. The low accuracy rate is one reason that some suggest doctors should not rely on the antigen tests alone when deciding whether to treat patients as if they have swine flu. Dr. Robert Rolfs, Utah state epidemiologist, has indicated that since the swine flu is now so prevalent in the state, anyone who exhibits flu like symptoms (sore throat, cough, fever), should be presumed to have swine flu until there is concrete evidence to the contrary. Had such a course been followed by doctors treating Francine Rushton, she may very well still be alive.


  1. Gravatar for upsetUtahmothers

    This type of issue still blows my mind: negligence by Utah doctors and nurses state-wide. Why could not they just treat her if her mother had it, it's seems like common sense that the daughter would have it too, regardless of negative test results. This type of negligence has been happening for a long time now: I took my daughter to the E.R as she was crying in pain over her ear hurting. She has chronic ear infections, but the doctor on call (having had to be called away from church on a sunday) told me she was "faking" and didn't even look in her ears. At the soonest possible time I could, I took her to her old pediatrician, and sure enough, she had a massive ear infection. The point: DOCTORS and NURSES need to look over the cold hard facts in certain cases and maybe DO THEIR JOB, to help people get well again.

  2. Gravatar for zarogoza

    Francine was married to our uncle and we just recently found out she had passed. It infuriated me being in the medical feild myself that she sacummed to such gross negligence.People who practice with such dis-concerns are repulsive. Not only Utah though. I was diagnosed with uterine cancer and was put on birth control!drove to a bigger city and was taken into surgery. Idaho

Comments are closed.

Of Interest