Martos said doctors, who can't discuss Emily's case publicly due to privacy laws, told authorities that when Emily's mother removed the tubing, she failed to put a cap on the open line leading into the girl's body. That's left the young girl susceptible to a potentially deadly infection.
The cap was found in the girl's hospital bathroom.
Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, said Emily's immune system is already compromised from the cancer and chemotherapy.
"If bacteria get into the blood stream that can cause a serious infection," Schaffner said.
The open catheter could serve as a pathway for bacteria, he said, adding that an infection is not only possible, but likely.
"These are life-threatening infections, particularly in young children who've had leukemia and chemotherapy," Schaffner said.
And the longer the girl is away from medical care, the greater the risk of contamination.
If infection does set in, he said, the girl could die "in a few days or worse, hours."