A Quiet Night Turns Busy

A Teen-Age Girl Is Run Over By A Tractor

It was the summer of 1998 and a quiet Sunday night at the Cincinnati Children's Hospital, which has one of the busiest pediatric emergency rooms in the country.

"There isn't any epidemic going on," said Dr. Robert Shapiro, who has worked in pediatric emergency medicine for years. "There's no acute illnesses going on within the community. It's not always exciting every moment. And it's not life and death every moment."

Just then, he got a phone call from paramedics informing him that a helicopter was en route to the hospital carrying a badly injured girl. The quiet time was over. Correspondent Wyatt Andrews reports on what happened next.

Thirty miles away, a girl working on a family farm had fallen off a tractor and was run over. Brooke Steiner, then 14, had a fractured pelvis.

Before the helicopter landed, Dr. Shapiro called in an orthopedic surgeon to assist with her treatment. A broken pelvis can be a life-threatening injury, because of the danger of excessive bleeding.

Tell Us What You Think!
Do most emergency rooms treat children adequately? Tell us what you think, on the 48 Hours interactive bulletin board.
"The pelvis is one of those bones that has a very rich vascular supply," he explained. "And when it's interrupted, you can get a tremendous amount of bleeding. That can kill a patient." Even before the girl arrived, the trauma team prepared to give her blood.

"I can hear the helicopter," Shapiro said as it approached. "It's a good day if I can hear the helicopter."

With Brooke on the helicopter was her mother Kym Steiner. As soon as the girl was wheeled in, the trauma team began to work furiously to determine how badly she was injured.

"How exactly did this happen?" someone on the trauma team asked her. "You were on the tractor, and it rolled over?"

"No, I was on the tractor, I fell off, and it rolled on me," Brooke said.

"It looks like she has a fracture through the left pubic rami," said Dr. Robert Wood, the orthopedic surgeon.

The X-ray worried Wood: "She has a severe pelvic fracture and a good percentage of pelvic fractures are associated with a high rate of morbidity and mortality," he said.

rooke's mother came into the room. "When it happened, she laid there," Kym Steiner said. "She didn't cry. She just said she didn't want to move. And we held her until they got there."

After 20 minutes in the trauma unit, Brooke showed no evidence of bleeding, but doctors couldn't be sure. She was taken to an operating room, where surgeons probed the extent of her injuries.

After an hour, there was encouraging news. The CAT scans revealed that Brooke was not as badly injured as doctors had feared. She was not in danger of dying.

It took four steel plates and numerous pins to reset her pelvis, but Brooke walked again. Even in the hospital, she was eager to get back to her 4-H competition.

"Her only fear is this summer not being able to show her cow," Kym Steiner said of her daughter. "That's the first thing she said to me. She said, 'I'm not going be able to show my cattle,' you know, so that was her - that was her main concern."

At the same time, downstairs in the emergency department, Dr. Shapiro's long night came to an end. While he is working, he often thinks about how lucky he is, he said.

"I have three wonderful healthy children," he said. "I have a wonderful healthy wife, and being in emergency medicine and seeing tragedy every day is a very good reminder of how lucky we all are. I think about it all the time."

Find out what has happened to Brooke in the two years since the accident.

Save My Child: Main Page