“For the Good of the Children”??

Hi Readers — Just had to share the story I heard yesterday when I went to get some blood drawn. (I’m fine.)

The phlebotomist and I started chatting and somehow she ended up telling me that three weeks ago her 6-year-old son badly burned himself when he accidentally spilled a bowl of soup into his lap. His dad rushed him to the hospital — they got there at 10 at night. And there they waited for three hours, the boy crying and crying.

“My husband is not very loud,” explained the phlebotomist, meaning, her husband is not very assertive. So it took her arrival, three hours later (she was at work, far away), to shake things up. “WHY HASN’T MY SON BEEN SEEN BY A DOCTOR?” she screamed.

The answer? (Sit down.) “The social worker hasn’t arrived yet.”

Yes, the social worker. Who apparently had to interview the child about  whether his parents had done this to him — scalded him — BEFORE the hospital could treat him.

Maybe this was legally required. If so, damn the law. Maybe it WASN’T legally required. If so, damn the hospital. But basically: Damn us. Damn a society that is so obsessed with abuse that it ends up abusive.

It’s fine to ask the kid what happened. I’d like to ferret out abuse, too. (I do worry about, deliberately or not, the child being mislead into an accusation. But that’s for another post.) My point is: USE COMMON SENSE! Do this AFTER someone has taken care of the child’s PAIN!

The idea of a 6-year-old going through that is hell. But hey — at least the hospital was following protocol. — L.

168 Responses

  1. I…am…so…angry. How DARE health professionals not quickly treat BURNS promptly (as per standard protocols), especially with a PAED patient!!!

    The do NOT deserve to be in such a position of power of a human life. Or the need retraining. Paed + burns = prompt treatment.

    Angry at my fellow health professionals. Wait, scrap that, I do not consider them my working kin, I reject them.

  2. If that’s protocol, then it’s seriously wrong. Either way, someone should be fired over that. That is child abuse on the behalf of the hospital.

    DISGRACEFUL.

  3. That makes absolutely no sense.

  4. My niece broke her arm when she was 2 when she fell off the sofa and landed badly. The hospital subjected her to about 30 x-rays – three of which were medically necessary, the rest of which were to make sure that she had no previous breaks (which could indicate child abuse). It’s ridiculous that hospital workers aren’t allowed to use common sense to see that she was perfectly fine (other than the broken arm) and her parents certainly weren’t child abusers. They just have to apply the policy equally to everyone no matter what. And it stinks.

  5. I am not normally one to shout this (because in general people have gone to far with it) but in this case, I think they should sue the hospital. I don’t think they should settle, either. I think this needs to be made into a big case, and brought the everyone’s attention. I think it needs to be made national, and I think a judge (no judge is going to rule that a child shoud have to sit for 6 hours with excrutiating pain from burns) needs to point this out to all hospitals in America so that this can not happen again.

    I also think that any money won should go to the child’s charity of choice, so that he doesn’t think that lawsuits are the way to get things.

  6. Oh. Dear. Lord.

    I wish I were surprised, though. Dealing with any “mandatory report” situation has, unfortunately, become more and more full of stories like this one. What was set up to keep children safe has been taken over by a paranoia that completely eats common sense. Part of the reasoning, as far as I have heard, is that if there is any sign of abuse, they need to have the evidence intact.
    Parenting… another area where you are guilty until proven innocent, I guess. Childhood accidents are now treated like a potential crime scene, right from the start. Sheesh.

    I can only imagine what would happen, now, if the visit to the ER I made with a broken arm at the age of 6 were to play out like it did. I had broken my arm doing “one last cartwheel” (one handed) in a rush because my mother has said it was time to go in and I was feeling a little… defiant. My mum, of course, did not let her concern get in the way of making “see what happens when you don’t listen to me?” jokes/comments to me. If she were to make those now? I am guessing the response wouldn’t have been for the nurses to chuckle, having heard what happened, and the doctor to remark as he came in that as he understood it, I had been using my arms when I should have been using my ears. Heh.
    Of course, had anyone tried to make me wait, unseen and in pain, for that amount of time, there *would* have been police involved. My mother would have called them.

    When my own daughter was four and hurt her ankle, there were more pointed questions about how it happened… but they ended kinda quickly when my daughter asked me (I’d been holding her and we’d both fallen against some stairs), “Mum, do you need to show them your butt? I’ll bet your bruise is HUGE!” in that oh-so subtle and quiet way that young children have.

    I would have suggested to this mother that she at least file a complaint. If it were not official policy, it may help in making sure this did not happen unnecessarily… and if it is official policy/law, it would help in starting to build a case for common sense reforms.

  7. checkrd with nys cps…according to them this is a policy..so that a good case can be made against the parents. what about the child in pain? they will get some one there as soon as possible and children are tough. ARE YOU F******G kidding me? who gave anyone the power to keep a child in pain for their convinience? can you define child abuse for me because this is it. the foxes are guarding the henhouse.

  8. I’m sorry but I just don’t understand. If that’s their policy then shouldn’t they have someone immediately available? What about the risk of infection or that the burn would rub against his clothing and make it worse? What about the fact that he’s a paying customer and he needs assistance?
    I just don’t get it. Would they make an adult wait six hours with a burn like that? It’s cruel to leave that poor child in pain for so long for NO REASON!!
    No matter what the policy how can any person see a small child in pain, crying, upset…for six hours…and not DO ANYTHING. Heartless individuals.

  9. Oh my god…

    Yet again I am so very glad that here in Israel people still retain a degree of common sense and don’t let fear and paranoia lead to a situation where children are purposely and needlessly made to suffer.

    My 4th grader has now been to the emergency room 3 times for injuries to his right hand. Instead of suspecting non-existant abuse they actually ASKED him what happened – and then suggested that perhaps he’d like to consider a position other than goalie in soccer😉. Sheesh.

    My heart breaks for that poor little boy.

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  10. Presumably the child would have been much better off sitting in a cool bath at home, but that might be considered delaying seeking treatment.
    This is a horrible story.

  11. Ye gods….

    I think its time to find another hospital…..

    This is NEGLECT on behalf of the hospital!!!!!!

    File a suit, a complaint, anything! This poor kid doesnt have to suffer because the freakin’ social worker hasnt come yet!

    If the burns were serious, then he shouldve been seen right away!

    Dont let this dreadful hospital get away with it-show them no mercy for making a poor 6-year old wait for 3 hours just so he could be checked for child abuse!!!

  12. That’s just plain sick. I’d sue the hospital for abuse and neglect.

    Even if his parents did this to him, it’s of no consequence. He needs treatment immediately. The burns could cause lasting scarring if treatment is delayed.

    Leaving the child in pain is neglectful and abusive.

  13. I am a foster parent. Several years ago while at a family visit the mother alerted the social worker to “multiple bruises” on the three kids all under the age of two. I forced my way past many people to see three babies stripped naked being photographed from all sorts of angles.

    Luckily when the children were placed and while my pediatrician rolled his eyes, I had him document their Mongolian marks. He insisted the EVERYONE knew Mongolian marks and how they looked nothing like bruises. Turns out none of the social workers knew what they were and had I not had a graph from my doctor I would’ve, at the very least, lostthose children and quite possibly the others in my care at the time.

    Now they were not “injured” but being stripped naked and photographed at the very mention of abuse by someone who has reason the make false allegations is insane. My three do not remember this incident, but their older siblings do.

  14. Additional note: if this is indeed policy, they should have a social worker on standby, so they can see the kid a lot sooner. 6 hours is simply the result of bad planning.

  15. I’m speechless.

  16. This is about as horrifying as it comes, not to mention nonsensical to the extreme.

    Okay, imagine for a moment that there WAS a serious suspicion of the parents having done that to the child. Appropriate action? Treat the child IMMEDIATELY, as normal. Do not allow the parents anywhere near the child or attempt to discuss the injury with the child until the social worker arrived. There, both objectives are satisfied – the child is treated appropriately in terms of injury and of potential abuse.

    I don’t know all that much about medicine, but I can tell you these three things:

    1. Burns are extremely painful injuries, for more so than, say, cuts.
    2. Burns GET WORSE the longer they are left without treatment or intervention.
    3. Particularly bad burns or particularly large ones can make the creature sustaining the burns very, very sick indeed, as the body consumes an awful lot of resources to counter the damage.

  17. How horrifying for that family. This past September 4, my 6 year-old daughter fell into a campfire and burned her hands and forearms badly. We drove 45 minutes to the nearest hospital, in another state. She was taken back immediately and treated. I stayed at the desk and gave them her name, birthdate, insurance, etc… for about 45 seconds, then they told me to go be with her. After she was given morphine and had calmed down, they sent someone back to gather the rest of the needed information from me.

    At all times, I was assured that accidents happen, that this is not my fault. We ended up getting life-flighted to the nearest burn unit (4.5 hours by car), and stayed in the hospital for a week. We first saw our social worker on day 3.

    Mandatory reporting, yes. Before treatment, NEVER. This is punishing the child, not the “abuser”.

    I get asked all the time if I’ll ever take her camping again. Of course! She wanted to go back the very next weekend, when she got out of the hospital!

  18. When I was little, I went through a period of a few months where I had to go to ER a number of times, generally about every 2 weeks – I had to get xrays after I fell out of a glider swing and ended up getting knocked out and bent in half backwards by it as it swung back, I scalded myself by knocking just boiled soup into my lap, I had burns on my hand from grabbing a curling iron… After a few of these incidents, my dad was taken aside and confronted about abusing me. Poor guy! He never did abuse me (well, he was a tyrant, so it was a different kind of abuse that didn’t really manifest until later) I was just pretty accident prone at that age. It didn’t go anywhere though. I imagine they asked me what happened and I told them: “my fault”. Refusing treatment until an assessment of abuse can be made, though, is horrible. Assuming abuse immediately, also horrible.

  19. Although I am disgusted at the hospital and its policies, I’m more disgusted by a parent that would let his child cry in pain for three hours without medical attention. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? What does it take to get this man to speak up for his child?

  20. That is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. The hospital staff needs a lesson in common sense. Unfortunately I could totally see my husband reacting in the same way. He is not assertive either and I’m usually the one to take control in those types of situation.

  21. That world is a weird one.

    A few years ago, I sat in our ER with my 6-month old who had been suffering from an unexplained illness. For 2 weeks I watched her decline, taking her to the pediatrician every other day… then every day until the rushed us to the ER.

    One of the doctors in our office had done procedure I found repulsive, I hadn’t slept in days, no one had an answer, I was sick of the medical folks poking and prodding … Mother Lion was on guard.

    They put in an IV (I made them get someone who could do it on the first try), called in a specialist, then informed me they would do a spinal tap. Over my dead body were they sticking another needle in my baby’s body without proof that she needed it. In an out-of-body moment I watched myself roar at the staff, daring them to come close. Thankfully, the specialist arrived and quickly diagnosed a life-threatening (yet treatable) abscess on her tonsil.

    Days later (we stayed at the hospital for a couple weeks), one of my new friend nurses told me that the ER staff had left my room to call in CPS since I refused the spinal tap. Apparently, if the specialist hadn’t come or diagnosed as he did, they would have taken her from me … declaring me a negligent mother.

    That was ten years ago — it still makes my stomach hurt. It’s a weird world we live in… often great – but sadly weird.

  22. Besides the obvious objections that Lenore and others have raised–it also occurs to me that this would be another bar to seeking medical treatment for a child in need, whether because of abuse or simple accidents.

    This policy seems to assume that an abusive parent will jump right up and careen to the nearest hospital and then sit there for hours politely waiting for the social worker to come catch them redhanded. Baloney. They will avoid going taking the child to the hospital, and if they do, they will make like a banana and split as soon as they get wind that a social worker is on the way.

    We had a heartbreaking case here in Texas where a child was forced to take a scalding shower, and hit/slapped around for good measure, and the mother/mother’s boyfriend made her endure THREE DAYS of agony before they took her to the hospital, no doubt trying to come up with a way to weasel out of what they’d done. Among the many charges was something for failing to procure prompt medical attention.

    So which is it, society? Do kids deserve to be treated immediately or not?

  23. A child could die of a serious burn that is untreated for 3 hours. What the hell. I sincerely hope that some dumbass misunderstood the rule, and has been promptly fired.

  24. that is disgusting. how could health care proffessionals do that to a boy. I’ve been burned by a hot cup of tea (by my mum) on a train and know how much that hurts. Poor fella. Here in Australia they report you to child protective services if you present your children to hospital multiple times in a short period. As Erika said, a parent who cares will front up to hospital as soon as possible, why then punish the child and make them suffer while red tape gets handled,? Fail.

  25. When I was 2 (100 years ago), I was a tomboy and bore more than the average number of bumps and bruises. One day my brothers were jumping off a dresser onto the bed, I decided to follow them, an accident occurred, and my forehead was busted open. I was duly taken to the ER where, according to my mother, I was questioned repeatedly both before and after the stitches (including in a room away from my mom) about what had happened and whether anyone had done that to me. Needless to say, my mom was not in a hurry to bring me back to the hospital (or doctor) after that. Because yes, it is easy to talk a kid into saying someone hurt her. (The fact is, my 5yo brother “helped me jump,” and I hate to think what would have happened if I’d said “B pushed me” instead of “I fell off the dresser.”)

  26. Details, please! What state, what city, what hospital?

    The parents need to sue the hospital and go to the national media with this one. This could happen to anyone’s child, anywhere in this country. They inflict pain and cruelty on children, all in the name of protecting them!

    What a degenerate age we live in.

  27. I agree with Silver Fang; it has to be made public that this child was abused by this hospital. Otherwise, how can we stop this from happening again?

  28. That is the most enraging idiocy I’ve heard in a long time. What the heck does a social worker have to do with burn treatment? I agree with others, lawsuit time.

    Next time, use another hospital. Maybe one that has sentient people working there.

  29. MEANWHILE, actual abuse cases continue and continue to go unreported… because… guess what? Abusers probably don’t bother to take their kids to the hospital for stuff like that!

    I have had DHR called on me for something as small as an unfortunately placed mosquito bite (under the eye) on an obviously healthy/happy/well-cared-for child, but thousands (or more?) other children live in fear of their own parents.

    A society is judged by how it treats its children and elderly. We don’t do either well.

  30. Take it to the media. They should start with the local news. Or youtube. 🙂 Seriously, no excuse.

  31. I have mixed emotions on this. One, if there was any suspicion, why didn’t staff shoo the dad out of the room and ASK the kid what had happened? You’d think they’d be pretty good at calming down kids and reading their reactions.

    On the other hand, I wish someone had done that for me thirty-plus years ago when I was being abused. No matter how many ‘trusted adults’ I told, no one ever did anything.

    We need a happy medium. Neither one of these is it.

  32. @ annieology, I shudder to think what will happen if (or more likely when) I need to take my son to the emergency room. He inherited both my fair Irish skin and my ability to bruise ridiculously easy (90% of the time I have no idea where my own bruises came from) along my husband’s daredevil level of activity so he *always* has multiple bruises.

  33. I understand the reasoning behind the policy of reporting it for investigation. I think that is a good thing, because there have been too many stories about children being harmed or even killed at the hands of parents or parental figures, even though there had been suspicions. What I DON’T understand is why the hospital had to wait until after the CPS worker arrived before they could treat the boy. Why couldn’t they treat his burns first, and then do the interview?

  34. When I was getting teeth removed as prep for braces, the nurse commented on my high pain tolerance and my mom made a joke about “the beatings”. She got a dirty look and if the surgery didn’t border on malpractice (blood suction thing didn’t work, painkiller stuff didn’t work, etc) there might have been CPS involvement. That and my laughing despite the instruments stuck in my mouth.

    File a complaint at least.

  35. While visiting my inlaws a few years ago, my then 14 month old fell into their stacked rock fireplace and had a 3 inch gash right at her hairline. My father in law kept the older two (6 & 3) while I took her to the ER. Four stitches later, I returned to their home to find my father in law walking down the deck with the 3 year old screaming in pain. She had a 5 inch sliver of wood decking shoved under her toenail, through the nailbed and into the toe she and her sister had been playing “alligators and snakes” on the deck). I handed him the 14 month old, put the 3 year old in the car and drove straight back to the ER. They removed her toenail, extracted the small tree, and sent us on our way with a few chuckles on the odds of 2 ER visits in 3 hours. While sitting on the deck trying to decompress, I noticed the oldest playing with a bungee strap. She had hooked it to the deck rail and was pulling it. As the words “stop before you hurt yourself too” left my mouth, the strap popped lose and sliced a huge gash into her upper leg. Still wearing the same bloody clothes from the first two visits, I rushed her to the same ER. She received 18 stitches, and I was sitting in fear knowing that social services would surely be called. The doctor just laughed and said that I had to have set some sort of record and they should offer me a volume discount. After that day, all I wanted was a grande margarita with an extra tequila shooter, but alas, I couldn’t indulge because I was 6 months pregnant with TWINS! Accidents happen when you don’t wrap your children in cotton wool and keep them in a hermetically sealed bubble of childproofed, climate controlled safety. Whoever said girls weren’t as rough as boys, never reared 4 active girls, because my sons is much less accident prone!

  36. Good LORD. I have no words for how wrong that is.

    Yes, the burn could have been abuse or neglect. But making the child wait hours for treatment for no good reason *was* abuse. Ask questions. Take photographs. Get the social worker in there (if that takes 3 hours, there’s something wrong — an actual abusive parent might not stick around that long). Whatever you need to do. But you don’t deliberately withhold treatment — WTF?!?!

  37. What’s really sad is that I found myself thinking to myself, how can I treat burns at home? That’s the kind of fear state we end up with when even the innocent (both the parents and the child in this case) are punished. What does it say about us as a culture when we are taught to fear the very people who are supposed to be protecting us?

  38. My mind boggles. How is that not a criminal offense, if qualified personnel is available and does not treat a burn wound, which is very likely not getting better by waiting?

    I’m quite sure that over here it would fall under section 324 of the criminal code, punishable with up to five years prison.

  39. I feel sick to my stomach – a child in pain, and stuff around to treat the pain but not allowed to have anything until a frigging social worker arrives? Isn’t this child abuse? Don’t they have cameras at that place? What about the 3 hours the dad had to tell the kid to not say anything? Sick, sick, sick!

  40. “anonymousmagic, on January 21, 2011 at 21:29 said:

    That’s just plain sick. I’d sue the hospital for abuse and neglect.”

    Here, here!

    And how did our country become the land of the insane?

  41. Kristi: Thank you. You have just given me strength to survive pretty much anything life could throw at me over the next . . . three years or so.

  42. OP, this MUST GO NATIONAL. What could happen if they pull this crap with a child who has abdominal bruising or a head injury? Nurses, feel free to chime in.

  43. Oh do I hope they sue. That seems to be the only way to regain common sense in this case and in this society. I’d have lost my goddamned mind. Or called the cops and made a huge stink. I can’t believe places like this exist in my own country… though, in other countries (with the exception of a few) they seem to believe in kids being kids and not danger magnets for EVERYTHING including parents.

  44. Calling a social worker? For one incident it may be overkill, but given that abusers will, naturally, claim what they did was an “accident” it makes sense.

    Making the kid WAIT until the social worker shows up? OMFG. That is the most messed-up thing I’ve ever read here.

  45. This is beyond wrong but doesn’t particularly surprise me. Enrage me, yes; surprise me, no. But, then again, I’ve had nothing but BAD experiences in the ER. Which probably comes from living in a large city. Last time I was in the ER I was having an obvious miscarriage at 12 weeks. I had just been there earlier that evening and was back in excruciating pain. Sat in the waiting room a good 40 minutes before being triaged. At that point the nurse basically told me to suck it up and sent me back to the waiting room in agony, tears streaming down my face from the pain. I sat there for about 5 hours before I was called back. About 2 hours after triage I finally miscarried in the waiting room bathroom with everyone listening (my husband said they could all hear me crying and hollering in pain). Talk about abuse. I’ve never felt so small and insignificant in my life…if I had known that’s how they were going to treat me I would have taken my chances at home where I at least could have passed out from exhaustion in my own bed after the pain was gone (I hadn’t slept in at least 2 days).

    Anyway, experiences like that make me shy away from the ER even when my kids get hurt. I’m constantly wondering if it’s really “ER worthy” because it seems nothing good ever comes out of going to the ER. I remember having to take my son, then 2, to the ER because *I* accidentally dislocated his elbow. We had to wait 2 hours for my husband to get home (he was okay as long as he didn’t move it) and then on the way to the hospital I realized how it looked and just burst into tears because I was sure they would take the kids from me because *I* did it to him even though it was completely accidental. I was terrified but he was in pain so there was no other option. But as we got him out of the car I accidentally popped his elbow back in. We checked in but it was apparent he was fine and we left. I’m still surprised they didn’t try to stop us (they did bill us almost $200 for sitting in their waiting room…we hadn’t even been triaged before we left).

    Then there was the time I took my oldest, then 3, to the CHILDREN’S ER at a different hospital (supposedly the best Children’s hospital in our area) because she woke up in the middle of the night screaming (I assumed migraine). As we waited in the tiny, extremely crowded and overly hot waiting room it became apparent that “children’s ER” meant nothing to this hospital. The children’s ER was also the adult urgent care (non-emergencies were sent over from the regular ER) and they had just as much precedent as the kids.
    So, the 50+ year old woman that had sliced her finger and needed a few stitches was going to be seen before the 4yo boy out in the hall having the obvious asthma attack, wheezing and gasping for air as his mom held him in tears. The people in the waiting room said they had been there for several hours and the boy had been there before they got there. It was OBVIOUS he couldn’t breathe and both him and his mom were terrified but, you know, there are adults with sliced fingers and other non-life threatening illnesses that need to be treated first. I was sickened and almost went off on the poor nurse just sitting by watching it all (at least she didn’t tell us to get out of the hallway where there a dozen signs posted that we weren’t allowed to sit around out there…there were no more seats available in the waiting room where there were kids coughing and spewing who knows what all over). We left without being seen (got billed for that, too). I will never take my kids back there…it’s a joke.

  46. Nuts, nuts, nuts. Making a child suffer because of a technicality over a social worker–and they think a parent with a house that’s a bit messy is “dangerous?” Like that one person said, the foxes are guarding the hen-house. Time for the rightful owners to run the foxes out of here, by whatever means it takes–legal anyway–to make it happen.

    I’m going to take another unexpected position, though. I disagree somewhat with mandatory reporting, seriously. Believe me, I don’t for one minute advocate abuse, I do not, however–if someone is typically NOT abusive, but on occasion “crosses the line” with how they discipline and they absolutely recognize it as an overreaction on their part and they want to seek counseling for it, how is that going to work? They won’t seek out help now, because they know that the one they’re confiding in for help is going to report what they’ve been told–legally, they HAVE to–and their family will be broken up.

    And yes, even in such cases, the family SHOULD be preserved, if the person recognizes it as a problem and is willing to get help for it. If it’s an ongoing thing and they are happy to keep on doing it, then by all means–remove the child from the home. (I’m not talking about someone burning their child on purpose etc, or locking them up in pens etc, but rather, say, the parent spanks in a situation where other parents also spank or correct, but they hit too hard and it leaves a mark for a couple of days because they misjudged or overreacted and hit a little too hard.)

    It’s an evil system–yes it was wrong before when parents could be abusive almost in plain sight and not be touchable–but we’re over-correcting by a huge margin, to the point that the protectors are no better than the abusers half the time.

    LRH

  47. If I can speak from the social worker perspective–yes, this is ridiculous. Any good social worker (or human) will tell you keeping a frightened child in pain for as long as possible is not the best way to get an accurate description of what happened. Aside from being rather inhumane.

    I had a family referred to me for foster care prevention due to a somewhat similar scenario. The 14 month old fell of the bed and burned his arm on a radiator. Mom did everything right in taking the child to the hospital, following up, etc. However, the hospital had to make a call. I’ve now been seeing this family for counseling and parent skills training for close to a year. Why? Because it was determined that mom showed “poor judgment” in letting the child nap on the bed, not the crib. My hands are tied, but I wish I could close this case immediately. Families who actually need help are not getting it, because a (very limited) spot is filled for this nonsense.

  48. And the other thing that occurs to me….if I had to wait, then got that response, I would walk out the door with my child and go to another hospital. But with the attitude of that hospital, I would probably be arrested Which actually might result in faster treatment for my child.

  49. This is horrifying, yet unsurprising.

    When my now 14 year-old was just a smidge over 2, he thought it would be great fun to take all the covers and pillows off my bed, pile them up at the bottom, then run the full length of the bed and jump into them. (I only learned exactly what he was doing later, as I was cooking dinner at the time.)

    He misjudged a jump and slammed face first into my solid oak dresser, biting all the way through his bottom lip. Off to the ER we went, he had stopped bleeding and crying before we arrived, but the boy needed stitches.

    They called the social workers for that, too. And the social workers were rude as hell and kept trying to get my husband and me to admit to abusing him. In the in-between, they spoke to my son and tried to get him to say that we hit him. His response was along the lines of “Don’t be stupid. I was playing NINJA!” He said the same thing after the docs administered a sedative so they could stitch him up.

    This STILL wasn’t good enough, so there was a surprise visit from CPS two days later!

    I don’t have a very high opinion of people these days.

  50. […] For the good of the children. […]

  51. This is really a story about class. Rich white people be treated without requiring a social worker.

    In addition, they would not sit quietly for 3 hours from 10pm-1am waiting for treatment before even asking why they were not being treated. They would threaten to sue. They would asset rights. They would speak out.

    This is the husband/son of a woman who works in medicine who never said “do you know my wife,” we are leaving, etc.

    It also occurred in NYC where they could have walked out and gone to another hospital.

  52. Something similar happened to me. My youngest broke two bones at daycare, no the daycare wasn’t at falt, my son is just a very active little boy. The first break the hospital actually misdiagnosed as a sprained shoulder… it was a broken collar bone, They did make mention that it looks as if there was a prior break to the humerous in the xray… but he had never had an injury to his humerous. I knew his collar bone was fractured and kept insisting but they released us with nothing but a misdiagnoses. The next morning we went straight in to the PCM and were sent straight to an orthopedic surgen. Where we found out, he had a…. broken collar bone. (I asked the ortho to xray his humerous and told them what the ER claimed and she check and said she saw nothing of what the ER had said about a possible prior fracture to the humerous).

    Fast forward to a year later. My son is at daycare, running and jumping around all day, jumps off the end of a slide and starts to scream and cry. The daycare calls us and my husband goes directly over picks him up and takes him directly to the ER (forgetting to wait for a statement from the daycare). When he gets in to the ER he tells them what all happened and when they ask if he’s had any prior injuries my husband told them of the fractured collar bone. 2 hours later, an no pain meds and my son’s leg not set (spiral fracture of the tibia), CPS shows up! The hospital called them claiming ‘Multiple Prior Fractures’!!! Remember they misdiagnosed the actual real fracture of the clavical (collar bone) as a sprained shoulder, and they claimed that there was a possible prior fracture of the humerous a year prior. I was LIVID, not only at that, but the fact that after 2 hours my husband had to ASK for my son to receive some sort of pain meds… The hospital claimed that there was no way my son got this fracture from jumping off a slide; they said he could have ran and played on this fracture all day and just ‘aggervated’ it when he jumped.

    CPS ended up dropping the case after a full investigation, and I delt with the hospital for a year to have an amendment made to my son’s record with a statement saying that the term ‘multiple prior fractures’ be stricken from his record on that date due to a misdiagnoses made by the hospital.

    I do not think a child’s health and well being should be set aside for an investigation and questioning to be done, how does that help the child? Even if the child was abused, does it help the child more to have to endure pain even longer to find out what exactly happened? It makes me sick to think of having to sit for no reason with out at least pain meds, I’ve had broken bones I know what it feels like without pain meds.

  53. I will also say this–a lot of those “social workers” are not social workers. At least in NYC, CPS workers do not have Master’s degrees and, from what I see, are not properly trained in understanding child development or how to appropriately talk to children. It really bothers me that my profession gets so much undeserved bad press.

  54. That’s just sickening. Abuse by the hospital. There’s no excuse to make treatment wait so long over the lack of a social worker.

    I much prefer how things were handled when my son managed to gash his face right near his eye during a bath one night. They merely asked us what happened, and mentioned that future injuries could result in a CPS visit. No big deal, they recognized it as an accident, but have to go with the law on reporting.

  55. Wow. Had that been me, I might well have been tempted to go Denzel Washington on them, not only for refusing treatment (which actually makes the burn worse) but because I honestly have never met a social worker who had the slightest idea how society operates.

  56. This is disgusting. Doctors take an oath to help people. To let a child in pain sit right there in front of them is a violation of that oath.

  57. I guarantee you there’s no law saying the social worker has to do the interview first. What if the child were unconscious?

    At most, it’s a policy. But I’ll bet the policy is that the child can’t be released without an interview by a social worker.

    Still, I do wonder why the father was so meek. My best friend in college was more assertive when I was in the ER for appendicitis, for crying out loud. And Mr. Nonymous, who is extremely unassuming and mild-mannered, would go completely apeshit on anyone refusing treatment to Baby Nonymous.

  58. And to make it worse, I wonder if the parent getting loud and belligerent would make onto the CPS report.

  59. The sad thing is that if the child had burned himself and the parents waited 3 hours before taking him to be seen by a doctor, they would have probably been charged with neglect. But, if the hospital forces them to wait 3 hours, it’s just protocol. I would have been raising hell about 10 minutes after getting there.

  60. Ok, I agree with all of you and it is extremely ridiculous to let the child wait untreaded and to suspect abuse immediately, while performing abuse themselves…
    But why give your kid such hot soup that can cause bad burns???
    This reminded me of the ridiculous story of the lady who sued the fast food chain for giving her that hot coffee in the drive through and she burned her lab spilling it……

  61. Child is in pain for several hours waiting because he has to be interviewed by the social worker.

    Social worker shows up, and assures child that as soon as they have a little chat, he can get help for the pain.

    Don’t you think the child will say anything he thinks the social worker wants to hear, true or not, so that he can be finished and get some pain relief?

    Sounds like torture with a coerced confession to me….

    Treat first, question later.

  62. sigh

    Re: Hot Coffee

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liebeck_v._McDonald's_Restaurants

    Careful before you blame the victim.

  63. This is ridiculous.

    When I was three, I went ice-skating at a public rink with my parents and five-year-old sister. I was wearing knee pads, elbow pads, a helmet, and weather-appropriate clothing. While my parents chased down my sister, who’d managed to collide with another kid and had to deal with her tears and an angry parent, they left me kinda-sorta moving forward, one hand on the wall, grinning. Then I fell directly on my chin and split it open. I still have a bit of a scar. A few years later, at a fair, I managed to wrench my hand out of my mother’s while we waited in line and tried to get on a moving merry-go-round.

    Both times, my parents weren’t held responsible. I even have a distinct memory of my mom laughing with the nurse who gave me pain meds about how I’d learned my lesson (and popped my elbow out of joint or something).

    Accidents happen. Leaving things untreated makes them worse. That this happened is ridiculous.

  64. Reading these comments has been very instructive. My first thought was that this was an isolated incident. Now, I think this is cause for a movement! How many hours have been spent in needless suffering and worry over sick policies like this? Do people realize that most accidents are . . . accidents??

    When I took my kid to the ER for a cut on her head, the woman who spoke to me said, “I recognize you, haven’t you been in here recently?” I had not; otherwise I can only imagine how much longer our 6-hour ER visit would have become. And, that probably will play into my decision whether to use the ER in the future. Is that best for my kids? Well, it depends how you define “best.” Being visited by CPS and judged for who knows what – my being a single working free-range mom for starters – and having a case file – doesn’t strike me as “best” for my family.

  65. AZ – Why would you think that a 6 year old couldn’t decide for himself if soup was too hot to eat? Maybe he was making soup for himself and got it too hot and spilled it? Maybe he was helping set the table? Why would you assume the parents had anything to do with this accident?

    This story reminds me of when I was in high school and someone had beat the family dog in the face with a 2×4 when he was outside. I was the only one home so I took the dog to the vet myself. Here I am, clearly distressed over the dog, at the vets and they are asking me if *I* did this to the dog. I looked at them and was like – yeah, I hurt my dog and am now bringing it to the vet.. WHAT DO YOU THINK?! It made me so mad. I couldn’t imagine the furry I would feel if it was my injured child in question.

    Hey Hospital – guess what. Parents who intentionally hurt their kids DON’T BRING THEM TO HOSPITALS (LET ALONE ERs) FOR TREATMENT!!!! duh. ugh. Hope the kid’s ok!

  66. Please post information about the state and hospital in question so we can stay far, far away from both.

  67. @ Rich – it just might. But (@Anthony) that isn’t always a bad thing. When my son, at age 16 months, pulled a table down on top of his foot (yes, the ONE item of furniture in the house w/o a strap) while his sitter was chasing his twin, it was pretty obvious to her that the foot was broken. We rushed home and then went to the hospital asap – were we promptly waited FOR 5 HOURS. I was pretty ok while the first dose of pain medication was in effect, but pretty much went straight into mama jaguar mode when an obviously inexperienced resident started manipulating the foot around the time the pain medication was wearing off. I was pretty blunt about my opinion that inflicting pain on a toddler you need to cooperate is probably a REALLY bad idea. I also told him that if he touched my child’s foot again without providing pain remediation, I would personally guarantee he would suffer the same injury. That was went CPS got sicced on me. The first one came in, and I asked her if she had pain meds for my son. She explained she was a social worker. I told her I would be more than happy to talk to her once my child had been adequately treated but until someone made sure my son was no longer suffering she was going to have to wait. She said something to the effect of “why on earth was I called in here? Which idiot called me in here?” She then went off to find out why the heck my kid still didn’t have pain medication AND reported back about the delay. The meds eventually showed up, as did another social worker, who basically shot the breeze with me and then, when the resident came back, very loudly and slowly “explained” the parameters of what they ACTUALLY looked for when attempting to determine the potential for abuse. Those two definitely improved my mood, which was distinctly (and obviously) homicidal. That doctor probably hated my guts by the time I left, but hopefully he learned a valuable lesson.

  68. My apologies for the excessive use of “pretty” and the typo – it should have been “when CPS got sicced…”

  69. Is this what we’ve come to? Every childhood boo boo is now the subject of an investigation? Talk about undermining the authority of a parent…the message to the child is every time something bad happens, the parents are suspects and some third party will get to decide.

    I have a hard time believing they actually withheld medical care because of waiting for a social worker…that in itself is a criminal act. Something’s got to have been miscommunicated by somebody here.

  70. I was babysitting my niece & nephew on night. They were rough housing and my nieces arm got badly twisted. She was in so much pain I was worried it might be broken and took her to the local hospital just to be safe.

    I spent more time being questioned again and again about how it happened as if they were trying to find a loophole in my story, than they did treating her

    It was a little hospital in rural Australia, we were the only patients there at the time and it still took us 3 hours to get her treated and her wrist strapped (it was sprained). They were almost not going to release her into my care because I wasn’t her parent, but luckily my brother came along about then and sorted it all out.

  71. That is disgraceful. I agree with a previous poster who suggested the parents sue the hospital, or whomever they have to to get this rule changed.

  72. It makes me feel so relieved (knock on wood) that my two girls have never had an accident in which a hospital visit was warranted. There are little ones who do need the CPS to advocate for them, but it chills me how the governmental authorities have so much power over parents.

  73. Delaying treatment for something as serious as a burn should be reported to the NY Medical Board. The parents would get much more immediate action from them than from CPS or the hospital administration.

  74. Let’s DO keep in mind that we are short of verifiable facts for this particular case. This IS how urban legends grow.

  75. This is unrelated, but wanted to pass along to Lenore:
    This terrible terrible thing happened: a little boy caught meningitis. Trying not to assume the worst, the parents, thinking he just had the flu, tried to take care of him at home (they live in a very small rural community in Nebraska). Sadly, by the time they realized, he was very very sick and lost consciousness. If you read the article, they weren’t negligent.
    But my biggest worry is what the mom said to the reporter. She said her message to other parents is: “Assume the worst if you’re concerned about your child’s health.”
    Again, this is a SAD story, but please don’t us to assume the worst! and don’t make me feel like a bad parent for NOT assuming the worst each time my daughter is sick. I take good care of her and call my nurses, etc. But I don’t assume the worst. And it’s not great advice.
    For every time a parent misjudges, there are probably THOUSANDS of times when they are spot on about not overreacting. But those stories can’t be tallied, and they dont make interesting, if sad news.
    http://journalstar.com/news/local/article_b5434bea-262e-5f2f-b578-7f9fd063fa50.html

  76. AZ — when my son was about four, he 2nd degree burned his elbow in hot soup — soup that was perfectly fine to eat (we were all eating it at the time), but not good to stick your wool-sweater-covered elbow in.

    Stuff happens.

  77. “Hey Hospital – guess what. Parents who intentionally hurt their kids DON’T BRING THEM TO HOSPITALS (LET ALONE ERs) FOR TREATMENT!!!! duh. ugh. ”

    @Elissa, abused kids wind up in the ER all the time, brought by all kinds of people. And sometimes a parent has Munchausen by proxy.

  78. I agree, the family should sue — not to get money but to change the policy and create a national embarassment. That is horribly abusive.

    A close friend’s daughter recently had an accident that WAS the fault of an adult family friend– not abuse but simple stupidity (the door to the car wasn’t closed, the girl fell out and sprained her leg… the incident was witnessed by five or six people). At the hospital, they did NOT wait any time — they were rushed right in and treated. Then they were forced to stay at the hospital for TWO DAYS (which was certainly medically unnecessary) while the hospital brought in a series of social workers, etc, to determine it was OK to send the poor girl back home. Not as bad as waiting to treat until the social worker clears the case, but it was still time in the hospital for a little girl who could have been recuperating at home.

    But that is nothing compared to the story posted here. I think we should send this to CNN immediately.

  79. Go on who is going to mention the hair raising accidents they had as kids.
    1 Hopping downstairs backwards in a pair of my dad’s shoes (got a small bald patch at the back of my head, you can’t see it under long hair)
    2 Jumping off next doors roof onto a slide
    3 2 road accidents on the same road
    4 trying to get a lorry driver to run over my glasses, burying said glasses putting them down the toilet
    5 jumping in a glass coldframe
    and I hate to think of what social workers would have made of me turning all my dolls into Anne Boleyn and beheading them.

  80. hmmm, in 4th grade, I managed to cut my forehead by running into a bookshelf at school, I was running to turn in my homework before the teacher got to the homework pile. another time, at home, I somehow cut my head with a sledgehammer thing while my dad was doing yard work. I needed stitches both times. I was in elementary school at the time, almost 22 now.

    My paternal grandparents always talked to mom about all the cuts and bruises my brother and I got from playing around. They stopped that when I managed to break my leg right in front of my grandmother. I was about 5 at the time and the doctor didn’t believe my leg was broken until it moved.

    When I was a toddler, I managed to pull something heavy on top of myself and had to go to the er, nothing broken.

    I’m still a bit clumsy though, but it’s not as bad as it used to be. In fact now I get paranoid about sharp edges or sharp points sticking out, for good reason.

  81. oh and speaking of burns…. you guessed it, I was trying to get something out of the oven, broccoli rice casserole most likely and managed to burn my forearms. I was a small child at the time.

  82. Incidentally, at the age of 9 or so, I was running in the woods at my cousin’s house, at NIGHT-TIME, chasing fireflies. I didn’t realize there was a barbed-wire fence in the woods to establish property lines, and I ran right into it–it just barely missed my actual eyeball, and I did indeed need to go to the hospital.

    As best as I remember it, I was treated quickly–and my mother wasn’t interrogated for potential abuse, nor criticized as reckless for allowing me to run in the woods at night-time–and I am of the thought that such was correct, she shouldn’t have been, nor should current parents and/or children be either.

    LRH

  83. Wow, all I can say is, I was as lucky as I was to have grown up when I did.

    I was literally in the ER at least once a year from age 3 to age 16. (I apparently was born without good judgement when it comes to dangerous situations.) I think that there was only one time when anyone ever asked if my Mom and Dad abused me… Imagine the look on the social worker’s face when the then-6 year old me said, “Why would they do that?”

    I feel sad that more than likely my son, (born Dec 14th, we started late in life,) won’t know what it’s like to grow up in a more common-sense oriented world.
    -D

  84. My father was always in charge of taking me and my sister to the ER. He was a cop, knew all the nurses well, and we always got fast service because of it. But over the course of my years at home I racked up: a cut foot, 2 possible concussions, a broken nose, scraped the top of my mouth very badly with a wooden flute (don’t ask), a sprained shoulder, and a badly scraped face that warranted attention to avoid scarring. My sister managed stitches in her thumb, second degree burns on both hands (someone dumped charcoal ashes at the park, she was 2 and thought it was sand), a broken collarbone, and probably at least one other ER trip I am forgetting. The nurses just rolled their eyes when ever he came in and said “Which one this time?”. My parents also managed between them a dislocated shoulder, a cracked vertebra, a sprained knee, a nearly severed finger, another tip of the finger cut off with scissors, and a couple of car accidents. Genetically, we’re klutzes. Fortunately, clearer heads prevailed in those days and my loving, though klutzy, parents were never accused of anything.

  85. Lenore, this sounds like something to sic the investigative journalists at the NY Times onto. I think you might know someone?

  86. When I was about 2, I woke up in the night crying. We lived in a strange little 2 story house, with steep narrow stairs. My mom was carrying me downstairs and tripped. Rather than land on me as we both fell down the stairs, she pushed me in front of her where I ended up breaking my foot. She promptly took me to the ER, where I, as an early talker proclaimed “Mommy threw me down the stairs” Fortunately, this was the early 80s and social workers weren’t as rabid as they are now. They pulled my mom aside and talked to her about it and asked me questions about it and eventually figured out what happened. If a kid in this decade said that, the parent would have been in jail moments after it happened, instead of intelligently questioned.

  87. April, I clicked on that story not really wanting to. My son had that 2 years ago. Horrible, evil disease. There have also been 6 cases in NYC since late December…3 fatal. I hope that little boy pulls through. My son is fine, luckily.

    As for the story about the kid who was burned, geeez! I can’t believe they let him suffer so that he could be interviewed by a social worker. Treat the injuries, and then, if there is reason to suspect abuse, then investigate. Don’t let the kid suffer!

    A friend of mine from high school had an incident like that recently with her 7 year old. I don’t know the details, I just know what she posted on facebook, but it went something like her son was messing around, fell and broke his arm. They couldn’t get a cast that night because they had to be seen my a pediatric ortho, so the poor kid was in pain until they could get the cast. Then when they finally got the cast, they had all sorts of people asking the kid what ‘really’ happened. The kid just kept on saying ‘I fell’.

  88. @Kim, not setting SOP here. Even on adults, the ER refers all casts to ortho. Unless skin is broken, there isn’t much point in going to the ER for a broken bone. Of course, there is pain management to consider but it isn’t like they really give good pain meds anymore, because of drug seekers and so forth.

  89. @KateNonymous – ah yes. I suppose your totally right. It could be munchausen by proxy….even though its a fairly rare condition. But I think i’ve seen that condition on both Law & Order and ER so it must be common!

    Good grief, talk about a worst first mentality! I’d say the instances of concerned parents trying to take care of their injured children are substantially higher than instances of munchausen syndrome.

    I’m not saying it doesn’t happen and I’m not saying that the rates of child abuse aren’t shocking and appalling, but MOST parents are good parents. Society needs to get over the guilty until proven innocent mentality. Maybe then the resources that are desperately needed to help those kids in actual abusive situations won’t be spread so thin!

  90. To echo a caution that has been pointed out a couple times, I would be hesitant to crucify the hospital over a third hand account – emotions can distort details a lot.

    That said, there are enough first hand accounts listed here to point out the worst-first mentality regarding hospital visits.

    What makes me so sad is that we’ve strayed from the strongly held constitutional judicial belief that one is innocent until proven guilty. It sounds like CPS is given the power of investigator, judge and jury, with the allowance to lead young, naive witnesses to falsely incriminate parents. All in the name of preventing child abuse. Although its a noble pursuit, and at risk of sounding callous, I would rather the occasional parent “get away with” some physical abuse, then ANY innocent parent losing their child, even if its only temporary. I would hope with the presumed innocent philosophy, the serial abusers would eventually be vetted out and the innocent, loving parents would not have these ridiculous and horrible scenarios.

  91. If this had happened to me when I was that young my father would have started taking people’s heads as trophys. If I even had to wait 10 minutes untreated he would have been yelling and swearing, he would have demanded to see the dean of the hospital and he would have gotten treatment for his little girl. He was a very scary man when he wanted to be, being an ex small time drug lord and all.
    I understand most men are not like my father but why didn’t this man stand up for his son? Your child is crying in pain why aren’y you fighting for him? But then again it isn’t the father’s fault, it’s the damned hospital’s fault for having such a F*****G dumb*** policy. Sue ’em. Sue them for all they are worth and do not settle. Get a VERY good lawyer and bring this to the media’s attention. The press would have a field day with this.

  92. I had a social worker show up on my doorstep over a school “test” run by volunteers because we refused to have the child retested by them while the child was still sick. The original test took place while the child was sick. We were under medical doctor’s orders that if anything abnormal showed up again for that specific type of test to go see our family doctor first and then get referred back to the specialist if more investigation was needed. Nope, the volunteer put in a complaint and the social worker showed up at the school, interviewed the kids, then showed up at our door – within 10 minutes of a hard boiled egg exploding in my hand, burning it badly and every single other spot the way too hot egg touched. Social worker in question refused to allow me to leave for the hospital and seek immediate treatment. I had done the first aide, but the fire in my hand was not stopping and it kept on burning. They blocked the car with theirs and finally, I couldn’t handle the pain anymore, we forced our way out the door so that I could go get medical treatment.

    I was lucky – small second degree point burns on my hand, the rest was all first degree (painful, but not dangerous). It took three months for my hand to stop hurting on a daily basis and you can still see where one of the blisters was.

    The social worker in question decided to make our lives a living hell for 6 months because I put my medical needs ahead of her authority. I trumped her authority with my minor-to-her-medical-concern. What made it worse was that it was something that needed to be treated at the hospital. She demanded that I respect her authority, and we, my husband and I, both said no and pushed our way out of the house, out of the driveway and to the hospital. I am pretty sure she and her partner followed us as well.

    Later the same day of the burn, another two social workers, and a police officer in tow, showed up to do the instant interview and I got cut off from my husband and questioned about whether or not he abused me.

    All this because some quasi medical testing person decided that following doctor’s orders what not what I was supposed to do.

    My hand is fine now, btw, no thanks to the social worker. The previous burn ended up being a major third degree (the size of a US dollar) with staph infection, on a part of my body that doesn’t get a lot of use. Loosing the use of one of my hands – that was not a good thing.

    If social workers prevent medical treatment, put in a complaint with their supervisors and, if it was in the hospital, the head of the hospital, the board of directors and anyone else you can think of. Not getting treatment in time can make injuries worse, life threatening or even life altering. Policy be damned, if that was my child in the blog post, I would have seen a lawyer within 48 hours to sue the hospital for negligence and anything else they could think of.

  93. They did NOTHING to treat or cool the wound – the parents need to press abuse charges against the idiots in the ER. That burn was getting worse by the moment.

    Back when I was in JH I babysat for this family. The older boy dropped a piece pizza on his lap and kept saying it burned. The Dad told him to suck it up that it was just a little hot.

    When they left, the boy was still complaining. My dad have been baddly burned by grease when I was five, and I just knew this was more serious. I was feeling very nervous, but I told him to go change out of his pajamas and put on some loose shorts or boxers, so I could see the spot. (I was 12 or 13 and had been the victim of sexual bullying at school from K – 5 by a ED classmate so this made me very nervous. )

    The poor boy had 2nd degree burn – I called my Mom who came over. The parents were at play, this was before pagers much less cell phones. The kids didn’t know the name of their doctor – blew my mind I could give a full medical history by the time I was 6. So mom ended up calling our doctor, to make sure her first aid was up to date. Then Mom stayed with me, to tell the parents their boy had a 2nd degree burn that could have been minor if they had treated it then.

  94. This post has made me mad all day. And while yes, there may be some confusion about it all (but I doubt it) like others have said, it has happened (or near enough happened) to other people that I know it could happen to us. So we will take some pain killer before heading to the ER. Assuming I have the state of mind to think of it.

    Right before we moved, and we all were recovering from swine flu (which required an ER visit for my son who had an asthma attack – they took him in before anyone else – we hardly sat down) my daughter was running in the dark with a friend one last time, and cut her leg open really deep. I took her to the Urgent Care, which was going to close in 10 minutes. They took her in, stitched her up, and were there an extra 45 minutes beyond closing time.

    Then we moved. My new doctor’s office also has an Urgent Care, advertised on their sign to be open from 7 am to 8 pm, every day. Except I learned the hard way with a pulled muscle, that they don’t take patients after 7:30, or sometimes at 7:00 pm, when I came in another time at 6:45 and they had a couple people ahead of me. It seems like false advertising to me, but pales in comparison to this post. Had my daughter hurt herself after we moved at the same time, we would have had a 4 hour wait or more at the ER as the population has outpaced the abilities of the hospital.

  95. @Carrie That exact same type of incident happened to my son and husband. We were dealing with a lot of crap from my son’s school while trying to switch teachers so my son was in the spotlight. One day he came to school with a bruise on his head, he was asked about it and told them his dad had pushed him (they actually cut him off and wouldn’t let him tell them what actually happened and why he was pushed). CPS was called on us and the school never notified us with their concerns. CPS called me out of the blue one day to schedule a meeting about the issue. It took me forever to figure out what the problem was, even the bruise was almost gone. Turns out it had to do with an incident where my husband was leaning back in his recliner by the front door and my son jumped on top of them flipping the recliner on it’s back my husband pushed my son off of him onto the floor before he tried to get up, when my son slid off the back of the recliner (with a helpful/playful push) he hit his forehead on the floor. There was no ill-intent involved, they were laughing about the whole thing. But ofcourse because my husband ‘pushed him’ it became a huge deal! CPS dropped the charges, and admitted that they shouldn’t have been called in the first place, that the school should of clairified with us about what happened before making the call to them. In GA once CPS is called to a school or hospital they have to complete a full investigation.

  96. If this is protocol, whether it is legal or medical, it is absolutely absurd and bogus. There is no kind of protocol that confuses spilled soup and abuse.

    this is disgraceful!

  97. I guess I’m lucky with our hospital.

    We are blessed with a now 2 1/4 year old who suffers from the grand-parents curse: May your children be just like you. At about 1 1/2 she was climbing a bookcase, slipped and cracked open her forehead. One calming call with the wife, an ambulance trip, and the doctors dealt with her immediately.

    About 3 months ago she decided to lean too far forward on the steps and gave herself a lovely goose-egg. Also went to the ER.

    Again she was seen immediately. Both times we were asked some basic health and welfare questions. But there was no “how could you do this to your daughter”, or “you’re evil parents for letting her be a child”.

    It may help that her personality is so obviously high energy, and that we were both there, and most importantly, the ER had a separate Pediatric ER with doctors who were clearly trained to look at the whole child.

    My heart goes out to the OP. I would scream this out from the treetops. This needs to hit the local news, and should be sent to all your elected officials.

  98. When my daughter was 2 my parents came for the 4th of July and we went to their hotel to swim. My daughter didnt want to leave, so while we were walking down the hall, with my husband holding her hand, she just dead dropped to the floor. He didnt let go, and she got nursemaid’s elbow (pulled a ligament or tendon or something out of place) she was crying and screaming that daddy hurt her, which I said “daddy didnt hurt you on purpose” but we were so nervous taking her to the hospital because then she started saying “daddy hurt me on purpose”. Thankfully, we had a doctor who knew what it was and told us it was one of the most common childhood injuries, and he could tell lit was an accident. I’m glad it wasn’t at this hospital or we may never have been able to bring her home!

  99. I worked in a job where I was a mandatory reporter, in the early 1990s. I think that it was explained when I needed to call, but it was never implied that I had to call without clarifying the situation.

    I was doing parenting classes. One family had an older son, who years before, had done some inappropriate touching of his 8 year younger sister. The family now was taking the class and had disclosed to my boss what had happened, that they had already been through CPS and counseling and such. The daughter was now about 9. Unfortunately, when they got to the inappropriate touch session, the girl spoke up, and her “teacher” a social worker, reported it without talking to anyone else, or clarifying what happened after, or that her parents knew and all that.

    The boy had police drag him out of class in highschool. The girl was taken out of the school without parent consent or knowledge and taken to the doctor for a full physical. The family was horrified and the son faced charges for something that had already been investigated that he had done when he was 8, but now that he was 15 or 16, they wanted to throw the book at him. It was horrible.

    Had the social worker questioned the child more, talked to the parents, or even talked to my boss, she would have realized that she didn’t need to do anything. She just needed to ask a few more questions, as some people above have pointed out.

    But, still, why did this child in pain (or the other people in pain and need of medical attention) have to wait? In the absence of the social worker, why couldn’t the child have gotten treatment at least for the pain, and had a couple of photos taken of the injuries? They had the address for billing, certainly CPS could make a home visit at more convenient hours and when the child was not in pain.

  100. To all the people sick to death with this go to parentsrights.org They are trying to stop this garbage.

  101. Speaking of doctor craziness. 3 weeks ago I gave birth to my 3rd child. I thought I had seen it all, until they gave me a card with several blood dots on it. They gave me a sealed sample of my newborns blood “in case he gets taken, you have a DNA sample for identification.” Um… So congratulations on your baby, here’s a DNA sample for the foregone assumption that one day he’ll be kidnapped and killed. WTH? Why are we so freaked out that we’re providing DNA samples at birth now? It wasn’t done 5 years ago when I had my last baby. Culture of fear.

  102. I was a reasonably quiet kid, but I still managed to crack while riding my tricycle down a ramp (against a brick wall). I also managed to fall while playing hide and seek on a campsite — with my hand straight on a tent pin and I once pulled a heavy table down onto my wrist in an effort to win a game at a scout meet. With all these incidents, I received treatment as soon as I got to a doctor and they all asked ME what happened. No social workers. Someone actually trained the doctors to ask the right questions.

    To make matters even worse, when I was ill in Hungary, one of the doctors treating me managed to diagnose a condition that had dumbfounded several doctors back home. The Hungarian hospital smelt horrible, but I liked that Doctor a lot. He actually cared enough to help.

  103. Pretty shocking and amazing story about the kid in the hospital.

    Reminds me of the very high rates of child abuse in foster care. Take kids away from their parents for in some cases minor problems that would go away, and dump the kids into big problems that don’t go away.

  104. Appalling.

    Also appalling is Evelyn’s story near the top of her niece needlessly and excessively irradiated at age 2 to detect previous fractures, ‘just in case’.

    And socialjerk’s case involving the child who fell while napping on a bed – seriously, a year of counseling and training for poor judgment in letting a child nap on a bed?! But, for me even worse than the ‘sentence’ is the lack of discretion that the social worker closest to the case should have. It’s a zero tolerance policy toward poor judgment. We would all be in mandatory parenting classes were it evenly applied.

  105. To: All parents concerned about social workers.

    I was thinking about this post on my afternoon walk today, and thought of this.

    You know that thing about “talk to your kids about drugs before the drugs talk first”?

    Talk to your kids about social workers before the social workers talk first.

    Talk to your child about what a social worker is and is for. Explain to them that they are there to find out if bad adults are hurting a child on purpose or through neglect. Tell them that if anyone asks them about an injury they have, that they should clearly and truthfully explain the following:

    1. What the injury is (broken bone? sprain? cut?).
    2. How they got the injury.
    3. State whether or not the injury was an accident.
    4. What first aid they received.

    Example:

    Social worker: How did your ankle get sprained?

    Kid: My cousin and I were jumping on the trampoline. I fell down and my cousin landed on my ankle. It was an accident. My auntie took me inside and put a bag of frozen peas on my ankle and called my parents.

    Also, say the same thing to your child about physical abuse that you do about sexual predators. If they get hurt by someone on purpose, no matter who it is, you will trust and support them 100%.

    More also: Here are two phrases you could teach your kids to use as appropriate.

    “I know the difference between an accident and someone hurting me on purpose. This time was definitely ___________”

    In the case of a pushy social worker trying to get a condemnation:

    “My mum told me that if someone hurt me, she would trust me to tell her the truth about it. Why don’t you trust me to tell the truth?”

    Never tell your child what to say about any specific incident. Simply empower them by preparing them for this possibility and giving them the tools to control the situation.

  106. bah bunch of idiotic professionals

    It makes me wonder just what proportion of helicopter parents are actually afraid of this kind of treatment or non treatment of their children and themselves.

    I noticed there’s another Evelyn on here heh, I’ll change my name to Evelyn S

  107. When the rules HURT the ones they are intended to protect, it’s time to change the rules. Iagree lawsuit is in order.

    I may have to move back to the USA, and quite frankly, it worries me. I know these stories are not everywhere, but it seems so the norm now.

    What can we do to turn the tide? I don’t want to worry about this type of stuff, I don’t worry about anything else.

  108. Also- it’s not like we have an abundance of safe housing alternatives for even the kids who are really abused. There are limited numbers of good foster families out there,and kids in dire straights need them!
    There are lots of bad places kids can get stuck- the benefit has to outweigh the negatives.

    I know most CPS workers don’t have time for stupid shit, and really care- but the sad fact is all it takes is ONE that doesn’t like the way you do things……

  109. Dody-
    can you provide a link. I couldn’t get anything at parentsrights.org, but there are .net and .com- which do you mean?

  110. i just googled parentsrights and found this http://www.parentalrights.org/ I’m guessing that’s the website Dody was referring to

  111. I’m very sorry but I do not believe this story. I think it has probably been completely overstated by the lady that told it to you and she is telling you a version of the events. I may be wrong… but I don’t really think so.

    I am an A&E (accident & emergency…. same as ER) registered nurse in Australia and is completely incomprehensible to me that a child would be left untreated for burns for 3 minutes, let alone 3 hours in an A&E department. I agree that it is plausible that the child may not have been seen by a Dr, however a fully qualified triage nurse would have assessed the injury and would have started treatment, for pain relief first and foremost, and for burns treatment also.

    If the child was screaming with pain then strong analgesia would of course be required in which case a Dr would have also attended to the child. Paediatric patient + pain + burns + potential burns to genital area = immediate treatment and that kid would have been given priority in any A&E I’ve ever been inside.

    Yes, someone (social worker, charge nurse or treating Dr) would have asked questions about how the burn occurred. This would happen AFTER treatment, whether that day or on a follow up burns appointment and SHOULD happen in a way that doesn’t leave parents feeling judged or offended. Unfortunately we do have incidents where injuries are not accidental but this is normally in a much younger age group (eg, less than 12 months old) and this would never compromise treatment of a patient. It is supposed to increase safety – not adverse outcomes (which of course if would, if burns treatment was delayed unnecessarily).

    I’m an avid reader of your blog, a mother of one, a proud free-ranger but I’m not silly! Don’t let people wind you up with one-sided versions of events that are not plausible. If this had happened you would have read it on the front page of a national newspaper; not heard it from the mother in her workplace 3 weeks later. As an RN myself I would scream my department down if something like that was happening; as would the 120 other RNs I work with, along with all the medical officers and specialists – and the social workers!! I refuse to believe that in an obviously busy ER that no treatment had been initiated in order for a social worker to ask questions, where answers would have absolutely no effect on the outcome.

    I’d love to hear the full story.

  112. Kylie,

    I am sorry to disillusion you. Honestly, I wish your view were accurate here. As someone who has spent too much time in ERs and hospitals, I dearly wish things here resembled what you described.

    To start with, triage nurses here do not start treatment. At all. Then, even if they do flag the case as a priority, it then comes down to what room, time and priorities they have going on in the back, and not what she decides up front – unless it is a code situation.

    Unfortunately, even in situations that have nothing to do with abuse “concerns”, it is not unheard of for a screaming child to still not be seen for an hour or more, or to not even get triaged until they have been there for close to that.

    These stories don’t make the news. More’s the pity. But they are out there. They happen. They don’t seem so shocking (though it is completely appalling) to those who have already dealt with a system where common sense and efficiency and concerned patient care do not always seem to be a priority.

    I did talk to some (several) RNs and other professionals about this, after reading it. While they were horrified by the idea of it happening, and insistent that things are different in our state, they were not shocked or disbelieving. It is not so off the mark for what is known to happen that it seems impossible.

  113. As a kid, I was horribly abused by my father. He grabbed places he shouldn’t grab; and when not doing that, he was hitting me. Once, I got sliced with a pair of scissors. Probably while growing up, the police were called 20 times by neighbors who wanted the screaming next door to stop.

    Once when I was twelve or thirteen, in a drunken stupor, the monster picked up a plate and smashed it into my face. It messed up my vision for a few days.

    During all these instances, I TOLD the police and the ER personnel what happened, why I was screaming, and why I couldn’t see. What did they do?

    Not a goddamn thing.

    That’s not true, they told me to quit screaming, as it bothered the neighbors trying to sleep.

    So…… I’m glad that there are social workers, and I’m glad they ask kids “how did this happen to you.” BUT– in my mind, refusing that child treatment for three hours ONLY because they were waiting for the social worker is as bad as anything I ever went through. Maybe worse in a way, because they are supposed to be the ones that hhttp://wordpress.com/?ref=footerelp, but they let a child suffer. Use your brains, hospital workers!

  114. If your social workers are anything like ours the whole bunch need sacking. There have been literary hundreds of children put up for forced adoption on the grounds of “possible future emotional abuse”
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/7840835/Mother-whose-children-were-taken-for-adoption-joins-class-action.html
    Now how can anyone prove that in the future they may not emotionally abuse their child? My mother knew someone who’s daughter came close to loosing a baby from an accusation of phyically abusing a child despite the doctor sayiny the baby had brittle bone disease (that is common with that disease as well. My sister was friends with a woman whose husband was a lawyer, their baby boy srunched his body up to the top of the cot and manage to push the top of his head against the bars leaving a dent they where too scared to take the baby to hospital (he was ok though) Lastly do you remember the abuse case in Aukney where any child who didn’t say they where abused was accused of being an abuser. We panic about possible child abuse take children who are not being abused while ignore the ones who are.

  115. PS: Oops, I hit a button and it injected that bottom link into the last line or so into my above post. Sorry, dudes.

  116. Oh yeah, while I’m here…

    On one of those programs like Extra or Inside Edition a few weeks ago, they showed a woman from somewhere in New England who had her newborn baby taken from her, while still in hospital.

    The hospital gives every mom-to-be a drug test, and that morning, she ate an Everything bagel, which had poppy seeds on it. Her father bought her the bagel, and they even showed the shop on TV.

    Later that day, she went into labor. The hospital gave her a drug test (apparantly, they automatically give every mother going into labor a drug test) and she tested positive for opiates. Her baby was taken from her, but she got him (I think it was a boy) back a few days later.

    What I wanna know is, WHY is a hospital automatically drug testing all the expectant mothers? They’ve done no wrong, they’re just there to have a baby. I would understand if the woman was a convicted drug abuser, and was on probation, but this woman was none of the sort.

    Another case of overzealous CPS. There has to be a happy medium, but who knows if they’ll ever find it.

  117. For the good of the children
    http://www.davidlane.org/children/choct2002/choct2002/pragnell%20cleveland%20abuse.html
    Concerns were also expressed at the Inquiry regarding the use of video-recording equipment for surveillance of interviews with children and the use of anatomically-correct dolls in the questioning of children where sexual abuse was alleged. During such video-recorded sessions, social workers were seen to threaten and attempt to bribe children in order to bring pressure on the children to confirm the social worker’s views that they had been abused and leading questions were asked of the children which would not have been permitted in courts.
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-438208/The-women-went-ordeal-belief.html

  118. Kylie all I can say is the US is not Australia. This story doesn’t surprise me in the least. The bit about the social worker surprises me but a 3 hour wait in the ER is the norm not the exception. In a country where millions of people use the ER as their primary care physician, it tends to be crowded.

  119. …do I even want to be a mother at this rate?

  120. @Lenore…

    I just bet you’ve been dying to use the word “phlebotomist” in a column for ages.

    A few contributors have used the word “professional” with regard to social workers. For some it’s a two year diploma. It contains little or no clinical content. They’d have to be damn good at their job for me to view them as professionals.

    This hospital situation is curious. Initially I would have preferred to think it’s a third party report only and quite possibly exaggerated or the result of the actual cause of a wait being mis-identified.

    Then several others chime in with similar stories?

    I’m disturbed if this has happened once. How bizarre. The diagnosis – not to mention necessity – of trained medical practitioners is deemed secondary to a subjective diagnosis relating to those NOT the injured child, BY somebody who in all likelihood is unqualified to diagnose anybody of anything.

    I wonder if somebody in the area concerned(Lenore?) shouldn’t get on the phone and ask a direct question about such “policy” of a few hospitals. Is it actually policy in any of those hospitals? Is it theirs’ or is it being enforced by an overseeing government quagmire or statute?

    Observers from afar are interested.

    So might be the odd journo or media boffin nearer to home. Not to mention the occasional politico.

  121. This truly is absurd – there is a fact here – a child has been scalded – and a highly unlike conjecture – that maybe this wasn’t an accident. Which should be a priority?

    I do feel the situation is very hard for social workers, and I imagine it is much the same in the US – over worker and under trained. And relationships are such a challenge. I’d be scared of having to talk to one because you feel that if you are too cheerful you could be labelled ‘indifferent’ or if you get too upset you’ll be blacklisted as ‘aggressive’ (I know from friends who are social workers that they sometimes use this label for those they don’t want to deal with). I’m sure there are many good social workers who are sensitive to parents’ concerns along these lines.

    And the other thing that’s difficult is that sometimes social services *do* just intervene to help and support after some kind of small incident, with no intention of ‘taking the kids away’, but parents end up being terrified because of the media image that a visit from them must mean that you’re under suspicion, which is by no means always the case.

  122. I’m sympathetic to Kylie’s sceptism. No, Australia is not the US, but I live in East London and my experience of the hideously overstretched NHS is that while I would expect to wait for hours if I turned up to A&E with a broken leg, my children have always been seen promptly, with fairly serious but certainly not life-threatening illnesses. I’m not saying that things aren’t different in the US, I’m just saying I understand why someone would believe there is more to this story than meets the eye and that belief is not merely just because someone is has not experience of overstretched medical systems.

    (I could tell you other horror stories about the NHS such as being kept on hold for at least 10 minutes after dialling 999 without any triage or initial contact at all (someone could have been dying) but that’s another story).

    However, whatever we don’t know about the story – the injury was deemed minor, etc, etc, etc – if it is true that the doctors were waiting around for the social worker to arrive, then that is just insane. There are no circumstances in which it can be justified. In terms of “preserving evidence”, can a social worker tell whether a hot liquid has fallen on a child accidentally or on purpose?

  123. By which I mean can they tell by observing the injury? I don’t think so.

  124. @Donna and @KLY – I definitely agree that Australia is not like the US and that you have a different health system. However, our triage system is the same and I work at one of the three busiest A&Es in this country. We see traumas and we always have codes running out back. We start treatment at triage because your chance of getting on a trolly if you’re not dying right now is pretty much nada! I’m still saying that a child + a burn + pain = immediate treatment. Even if we were doing it on a blanket on the floor. 3 hours is not considered much of a wait time in our department either…. often people will wait for up to 8 hours to be seen inside the department. That’s why analgesia, fluids, IV a/bs etc will be initiated in the waiting room. Screaming children are not really a concern; they have a patent airway and that’s what matters. Screaming with pain, or irritable and inconsolable (? head injury) is another matter. Triage nurses are normally very experienced, there is no way that any health care professional would not provide burns treatment while waiting for a social worker review. That would be like not providing medical care to a patient with borderline personality disorder who had cut an artery whilst self harming while waiting for an emergency mental health assessment. The idea is so absurd to me and that’s why I find it so hard to believe that this story is true.

  125. Kylie – Clearly, your triage system is NOT the same as the one in the US. I’ve never been in a hospital where analgesia, fluids and IVs were administered in the waiting area. Not in hospitals in New Jersey. Not in hospitals in Georgia. Not in hospitals in California. I supposed that such places may exist in the US but I’ve certainly never stepped foot in one. Further, I’ve never been in an ER that triaged you in under an hour unless you arrive via ambulance. You fill out the admittance paperwork and then sit for at least an hour before anyone talks to you again.

    My guess is that there was dual problem here. The mother said that her husband was pretty meek and mild mannered. I suspect that he did not fully convey the seriousness of the injury to the hospital personnel. In return, the personnel thought that since the boy was not considered critical or emergent that they could wait until a social worker got there before they did anything. The father then meekly waited rather than becoming demanding.

  126. Kylie, I admire your belief in the idea that people will do what is right, for the good of the child, and that this could not happen. It speaks to a strong ethic, and a prevailing belief in goodness and common sense.

    That being said…

    I am currently posting this from my hospital room. My visits to the ER and the doctors started very young, and have spanned multiple states. I am a mother who has also taken my own child to the ER, and a good number of my friends are parents who have also dealt with emergency services. Too many in my life have also dealt with social workers and a system that is intended to protect children and has degenerated, in too many ways, into a bureaucracy built on paranoia and not on any sort of common sense.

    I am happy to hear that it is so absurd to you that you have trouble believing it. All too many times, there is outrage but with a resigned acceptance in people, here, about how this is “just the way things are now”. People stepping in with a fresh view that this is preposterous, and saying so, is what might be needed to help some people “snap out of it” and to raise awareness of things that need to be seen, addressed and – hopefully – changed.

    And, truly, triage nurses here to not treat. Life threatening situations (involving breathing difficulties, chest pain, and excessive bleeding) are sent back immediately. Broken bones, ambulatory burns and head injuries on a conscious patient, as well as less-major bleeding, are flagged to jump ahead in line, but still wait. Children in pain, where it is not seen as life-threatening, are not generally given preference in this hierarchy. This is what makes it not seem unheard of that a child would be left waiting, and in pain; and the familiarity so many here have expressed with social workers being called in over and above the needs of the child should explain why it is not hard for us to believe, in light of these factors, that this could happen.

    That’s the scary part: how few people are surprised by this. We may be mad and horrified… but there is not a whole lot of *surprise*.

    I hope that it always seems impossible to believe, for you, and I hope we can get back to a day were people here would be just as dubious.

  127. “Life threatening situations (involving breathing difficulties, chest pain, and excessive bleeding) are sent back immediately.”

    And even then, not always. I remember taking my friend who had popped a hole in her lung to the ER. It had happened before and she knew exactly what the problem was. We still sat in the ER for an hour (while her lung continued to deflate) waiting to be triaged. Once they ran the blood gases test and saw how low her oxygen level was (and realized that maybe she did know what the hell she was talking about), they quickly got her into the back but there was still a substantial wait prior to being triaged at all.

  128. Capitals are not really necessary Donna, this is a forum where everyone’s opinion is welcome.

    I apologise. I haven’t been very clear, sorry. We use a triage scale based on the US triage system. We do initiate treatment in the triage area… but not as part of the triage process. So the area itself is not one and the same as the triage process. We are very lucky not to have to deal with the insurance drama stuff that you guys are faced with, definitely. But like over there, the triage nurse is generally just taking the details and assigning a triage category. Unless we’re out there by ourselves, then we do both. Depending on the presentation sometimes treatment will start before triage and KLY, yes you are right, those are pretty much the presentations that would get you straight out back (plus a few others). A paeds burn in our department, definitely. Unless it was very minor. But if the child presented as initially stated and especially hot fluid spill onto a lap where genitals could possibly be affected – that would warrant an immediate inspection.

    Donna, I also have a take on the situation. But like yourself, its only a guess. That’s why I would be interested in hearing the whole story. That’s all.

  129. Sorry but I found it a little annoying that after person after person from the US said that this was not surprising and related similar stories that you said that this was hard to believe because it wouldn’t happen in your hospital i another country. while I personally suspect that there may have been more to this story based on the original statement, the story exactly as described is not impossible to me based on my experience in American ERs. maybe I’m just a little touchy after spending 3 hours at urgent care this week (no child services involved).
    e.

  130. “We use a triage scale based on the US triage system.”

    Kylie,
    If your system is based on what our system is supposed to be like, and you feel this would never happen there…
    May I request that you and some of your fellow nurses down there please come up here and help remind folks how it is meant to be? Heh. It sounds like your department has managed to hold on to more common sense, and possibly compassion as well, compared to where our system is now at (in a widespread sense). We could use some of that.

    I am serious when I say I truly hope ya’ll manage to hold on to that. It is heartening to hear that you feel your fellow medical professionals would be right there with you in protesting, if this were to happen there.

  131. I’m amazed at these stories in a bad way. In my Texas family I can think of 3 kids (now adults) that made double digit visits to the hospitals usually the same one. NOT once were we ever questioned by CPS or the docs for abuse. The only time someone reported something was a doc that hit the roof that a restaurant had lied to us about using peanut oil – he reported them to the health department. Don’t know if that did any good.

    My pediatrician did question me about abuse, but figured out what he was seeing was caused by a school bully. He gave our lawyer information he needed when my parents threatened legal action. This was severe crossed the line into assault not kid bullying. Eventually the sociopath beat and raped several women. I think my parents actions kept me from being one of his first victims because they were force to remove him from our school.

    Now my Mom and Sister have both been questioned as adults in ER’s about if they were being abuse. My Mom had 2 bad falls, we later found out were caused by mini stokes.

    Sis has an adult broken her left wrist, leg, foot, both knees (at the same time skiing), and slid down a flight of stairs to a beach house resulting half her body being covered with Technicolor bruises. She had a busy body coworker who insisted this can only happen if she was abused. BIL and Sis were in different cities if not states when every accident happened except the skiing accident.

    My sister is a social worker in a hospital. She says if this happened in her ER – there would be hell to pay and people would be out of a job and on the street before the ink was dry on the write ups. There are legitimate medical reasons to not give pain meds before a complete exam and even after if there is a head injury or possible surgery. Waiting for CPS is not valid reason to wait on treating an injury.

  132. This sounds odd. I mean, hospitals DO treat patients. And if he wasn’t emergent and they were busy … he would have to wait. If the dad didn’t do anything, it’s because he possibly assumed that his son wasn’t seriously injured and would wait his turn. If the hospital had triaged him as not needing care just yet … I mean, I don’t know how bad the burns were, but there seems to be more to the story that we aren’t hearing. As is often the case.

  133. “Further, I’ve never been in an ER that triaged you in under an hour unless you arrive via ambulance.”

    FWIW, Donna, the last couple times I had ER contact (several years ago, a couple of years apart, I guess) there was a triage nurse who saw you within a few minutes of walking in, before they did the paperwork. At that hospital, they had actually split the ER into regular and FastTrack — Fast Track being the place where you were treated more quickly for more minor illnesses/injuries, regular for the more serious stuff (although of course if you were emergent that doesn’t mean it was actually slower. It just meant that if you were Fast Tracked, you were expected to be in and out faster and have shorter physician contact.) So they triaged almost immediately to see which division you belonged in. They also staff the divisions separately, so that a kid with a burn doesn’t have to wait until all the heart patients were stabilized to be seen. I know the staffs are kept entirely separated, because a friend used to be a Fast Track physician, and that was his exclusive job — he did NOT work the regular ER, just like an orthopedic surgeon doesn’t do heart surgery.

    That’s just FWIW because you said you’d never been in an ER that triaged immediately. I do agree with you that those who are skeptical because in other places, things are done differently, may be mistaken in that approach.

  134. […] “For the Good of the Children”?? Hi Readers — Just had to share the story I heard yesterday when I went to get some blood drawn. (I’m fine.) […]

  135. When I took my kid to the ER, there was one person doing intake and there was a guy hogging the area in front of the window, having a chat that was not necessary to anyone’s emergency treatment. I was polite about it for a while, thinking they would see me standing there holding my bandaged preschooler in my arms (with my other preschooler underfoot) and move along. Finally I decided that this was one of those situations where you simply have to be a bigmouth, and I butted in. It still took us over 5 hours to get out of there. Luckily someone had done first aid on her before we went to the ER, so no harm was done by the wait – but what a pain in the butt. And it wasn’t even crowded.

  136. How is this not considered torture? Leaving a child in pain, when you have the power and the ability to help, is more severe then abuse! By the Geneva Conventions it is a war crime to not treat injured enemy soldiers, but not treating our own children is the rule in some areas?

  137. If true, this is truly horrible – so truly horrible, that I’m skeptical it’s true. I’m wondering if there’s more to story, or if it is simply wildly exaggerated. If not, then the hospital needs to be sued and someone should probably be sued for negligence. You don’t wait 3 hours to treat a pediatric burn victim to conform to some policy about a social worker (how can there be a policy that a child must see a social worker BEFORE emergency treatment?). It’s implausible to me, and as it is heresay, I will for the moment take it with a considerably large grain of salt. It may be true, it may not. It may be partially true.

    On a side note, I am kind of curious as to what a 6-year old was doing eating a bowl of extremely hot soup at almost 10 at night. Most 6 year olds I know, including mine, have an 8 o’clock bedtime, 9 at the latest, which doesn’t really correspond with a 9:30 hot soup time.

    When I was a kid, and I broke my collar bone, I had four different doctors or nurses ask me how I broke it. I got tired of telling and re-telling my story (which was admittedly strange, because I had taken a silly and peculiar risk that ended in the breakage), but only later realized they were checking for consistency in the event of abuse. But I was certainly treated immediately, and there was no social worker involved.

    I have (thank the Good Lord and knock on wood) surprisingly not needed to visit the ER for my children yet. I have had to call Poison Control three times in a year, and I was very worried the third time that they’d be calling CPS, but they were great help and very nonchalant all three times and did not try to make me feel in the least guilty. No ER visits recommended for any of those calls.

    ] Further, I’ve never been in an ER that triaged you in under an hour unless you arrive via ambulance

    And I’ve never been to one that hasn’t. I’ve been to ERs in three different states, never by ambulance.

  138. Still_Hate_That_Monster: Yet another reason I’m happy I stayed home for the birth of my three…

  139. A lot of people seem to have the feeling that because they’ve had different experiences, and because it seems too horrible, it must not have happened, or it must be wildly exaggerated.

    Well, if you look through this thread, you’ll see a lot of people have not had pleasant experiences with ERs or with Social Workers. There are a lot of folks who sympathize, because they have been on the facing end of something similar. It is wonderful that many are saying they have never faced anything like it, or that things were better run when they have had to deal with the ER, but I do not think that just because your experience(s) have been different that it is cause to dismiss those saying they have been through hell in this area.

    I am glad we have not reached a point where something like this is so universal that everyone has observed it for themselves, but ignoring the voices saying “Yes, this sort of thing happens, and it seems to be getting worse” is not going to solve problems. The point of this should not be “well, my experiences were fine, so I don’t think it is as big a problem as you say… even though you say you’ve been through it.”

    I’m a bit saddened by the tendency to question, doubt or blame the parents, as well. Because, you know, we aren’t facing enough questioning and judgement as parents already or anything. It seems too horrible to want to believe, so we question the parents, the story, and – by extension – Lenore for sharing it with us. Of course we don’t have all the details, but the tendency to immediately assume this could not have happened at all like it has been told is tragic. That is the sort of blinder-thinking that can lead to each and every one of us being doubted, dismissed and judged, should *we* find ourselves in a horrid situation like this. Trying to say it couldn’t have been not as bad as it seems ignores the fact that the mother was not told “we assessed this and will treat him in order of priority/as soon as we have room” (or just pointed at the “priority policy” sign, which is the other standard answer)… she was flat out told the reason he was not seen was because the social worker was not there yet. How is it okay, in any way, that is was even a factor?? To do a standard questioning/check, while the child is being treated is one thing… but this is what she was given as a reason for his not being seen. This means that even if the burns were not assessed to be severe, he was still made to wait specifically until a social worker arrived.

    As for the idea that if it really happened, someone would have sued or made a stink… it is notoriously hard, actually, to sue a hospital unless one has a lot of money. I am personally very aware of a couple cases of hospital + social worker horror (though, they are not my stories to tell publicly), and even with seemingly clear-cut wrong-doing and/or endangerment, finding a lawyer to take it on is pretty much impossible. It is also difficult to get a story like this picked up. You may have noticed that the media’s attention is not generally on this side of things. That is why Lenore is doing what she is doing… because someone has to be a voice out there.

    As for the questions about the parenting in general, there could have been any number of reasons for the child to be up and eating at that time. Mine was often up late… it is just how things worked out sometimes, and it was what worked for us. Not everyone has the same idea about schedules for their families, and things happen. Also, as someone else pointed out, soup hot enough to burn, especially a sensitive area, can easily be comfortable enough to eat. I know my child was always really picky about her soup going cold, and so we served it hot and she would blow on spoonfulls *just* enough. I’m just not sure what any of those points have to do with the story, or why there is a tendency – here of all places – to pick apart a story and go after what the parents may or may not have been doing differently from you.

  140. Nope, not at all surprised. I’ve been to ERs where you had to see both the nurse and the “cashier” before anything happened. I went twice for the same thing- they wanted to know who was going to pay up front, and then I was treated accordingly. Totally different treatment of same problem depending on insurance or not. I’m not making this up. I’m all for cost containment, but the insurance version had 100 tests and a whole day stay where the no insurance version I got a shot, script and sent on my way. The second way was better.

    anyway, I’ve seen all manner of screaming children, people in serious pain, etc sit for HOURS. it is not in common, depending on where you are. That someone had to wait for CPS also doesn’t surprise me. if you live in the US (which I did until 2 hrs ago) this wouldn’t shock you. You do get triaged pretty quick, but then the wait is on!

    and the fears over pain med abusers has ruined care for everyone else. I would rather a druggie get a few freaking pills than have normal people in misery denied, or afraid to ask, because of a few bad apples. some docs are so suspicious I think it colors the care for others and the way they view the world. Junkies suck, but why let them run the show?

  141. When I was a kid my siblings and I had hospital visits in a short time span of each other(especially with my bro), and a social worker popped up at the house a few days after my sis went flying through a glass door(don’t ask). My did had her arm cut straight to the bone by broken glass. Could you imagine if they waited for a social worker to see her before they stitched her up?

    I sure hope kids with life threatening injuries don’t have to go through what that poor kid did. Stupid stupid people.

  142. I have been to many ER’s as a child and an adult. As a child I was always the one they would ask whathappened first and the answer would be i was doing something or my sister did something and than ask my mom who would just agree with what i said or say she didn’t see.

    As for triage i have been to at least 6 different hospitals and they all had a different intake process. some better than others.The one i liked most had triage and registration(as i live in Canada it means swiping health card and confirming info, so no insurance or anything like that.) happen at the same time. and if still in the waiting room depending on why your there every 30-40 mins you get called back to triage to get temp and stuff checked again and level changed if need be. Kids were given a small stuffed bear. the wait to see triage about 10 mins. the wait to see a doctor depends on the level your given.

    The worst one if you get seen in under an hour it probably means your on deaths door. even people coming in an ambulance have to wait. the paramedic who taught my first aid course spent a good 20 mins complaining about it because they can’t leave till the hospital takes the person.
    There you go in give a name than wait. than get called to triage than wait, than go to registration than wait. than they call you back and you think your going to finally get a room to see a dr, but no they just move you to a different waiting room with nothing to read and than you wait. 4-5 hours to see the dr is the norm.

    For a hospital if it is policy that a social worker needs to be there before treatment is given than you need to have one on staff at all times. because once it is that child’s turn to receive care it needs to happen social worker or not.

  143. the average wait time in an er is three hours, often more. so the idea that the social worker was tying things up seems a bit funny to me. and since all the social worker can do is ask questions, there is no point in that talk taking place before treatment can begin. the questions can easily be asked after treatment has taken place.

    side note: I am a social worker that did crisis intervention in an er. We got called on all psych cases. Guess what? The er doc had to make that referral, meaning the person had to be seen by the doc first to determine the referral. Can’t see how that protocol would be changed here.

  144. Off topic, but link to another fear monger article that will hit home to a lot of free-rangers. Dangers of sharing your bed with pets… http://tinyurl.com/4hexz9z

  145. This is the negative side of mandated reporting. In my training to become an MFT, we are told that we don’t investigate any possible child abuse, we just report it. And if we (or someone else who may see a client we work with) suspects abuse, they too are required to report it, if there is even an inkling in their minds that abuse could be present.

    Ultimately, people take a “cautious” approach in that they report abuse “just in case,” so they themselves won’t be responsible (and thus liable to lose their license/get fired/).

    Which is stupid. We should look out for abuse, but again, we should be allowed to exercise the common sense and decency we are told is so important to our job as therapists. Then along comes some zero-tolerance black-and-white rule that negates all the varied shades of gray that make up real life. Sad but true, and hopefully an attitude that will eventually change for the better.

  146. I can understand Kylie’s scepticism about the story because it’s really just so far removed from our experience in Australia. I don’t necessarily doubt that it’s true, but instead see it as a further indication that the situation in the USA is a sobering warning for where my own country could be headed.

    My eldest son developed acute asthma at the age of 2 and over the following 2 years was admitted to the Children’s Hospital in Melbourne 11 times. We presented at the ER many more times than that. We also presented at the ER of a rural hospital with him a couple of times.

    Because we have universal health care in Aust the first person you see at the hospital is the triage nurse. The only wait is the number of people in the queue ahead of you. I never waited more than 10 minutes. Then you see the admin person who checks your Medicare records and then you sit and wait to be seen. Every time I went in with my pre-school son with breathing difficulties we were seen by a doctor within 20 minutes. The one time we went in because he had a gash in his head that required glue-ing, we waited two hours. I didn’t care because I’d seen first hand how triage worked. There were people waiting for three hours, certainly, but no one who absolutely needed to be seen earlier.

    Each time my son was in there I would notice the doctors or nurses very subtly examining him. They’d run their hands up and down his legs. I saw them note the bruises and scratches that are a permanent feature of my boys’ lives. No one ever asked me about them, let alone mentioned the word social worker. Like free-ranging parents, they observed cautiously with the risks in mind, weighed them up, and decided all was well.

    I also remember taking the same child to our first mother’s group meeting at the age of about 8 months. He had a black eye from trying to pull himself up on a stool that ultimately fell on top of him. I was concerned that the maternal child health nurse running the meeting would suspect me. When I explained what happened she just laughed and said “it’s easy to tell the difference between a kid who’s had an accident and a kid who’s been abused. Your kid had an accident.”

    I sincerely hope there is more to this story than there appears, because if not, your system really is sick and quite unnecessarily so.

  147. What scares me is how individual this is. Maybe on another night at the ER more reasonable people would have been working. People who would not have blindly, dumbly followed a ridiculous policy, disregarding the well-being of the patient. These comments are full of examples of clear-headed, caring human beings who can THINK for themselves, working in the ER or as Social Workers. Thank god for those and hope they’re working when I next need the ER.

  148. On a side note, I am kind of curious as to what a 6-year old was doing eating a bowl of extremely hot soup at almost 10 at night. Most 6 year olds I know, including mine, have an 8 o’clock bedtime, 9 at the latest, which doesn’t really correspond with a 9:30 hot soup time.

    Perhaps he couldn’t sleep because he was hungry. Or perhaps his school starts later than the ones in your area, or he’s homeschooled and wakes up later than your kids. Perhaps it’s just not important.

  149. Several comments: I know several families, especially when the kids have evening activities, that eat a light meal late at night. The kids are hungry, so they all eat. Soup, a sandwich, something.

    Triage: ER triage in the US can be horrible. It may not be the triage though, it might be how busy the ER is. The last time I was in the ER (my husband cut his finger badly), there was a teenage girl waiting to be seen. Brought by ambulance from a ski resort, mother by her side, she’d cut her leg badly with a ski pole. Pressure bandages were controlling the bleeding (mostly). She STILL waited for over 2 hours to be seen (was seen before us, of course), but the ER had been slammed by 3 codes due to a multi-car MVA, and there was no choice in the matter.

    However, that being said: as a nurse, a mandatory reporter, and a mother, I cannot imagine seeing my child in pain with NO treatment for 3 hours. I can’t imagine letting it happen in an ER to my child. But, if I was a person who found hospitals intimidating, especially if then I was told they were waiting for a social worker, I am sure I would have shut up and said and done nothing that would have gotten me in more trouble.

    One last thing: I would bet if it had been a mother who took the child in rather than the father, with mom missing, the child would have been seen earlier. Unfortunately, many ERs suspect fathers of abuse for incidents that would pass right by if it was a mother.

  150. My mother had enough accusing eyes when I smashed my head open twice in two weeks (in the same place) and had to have stitches. I was just clumsy and ran into the corner of a wall… twice! And have the scar to prove it. Imagine if that had happened in todays world instead of 25 years ago… She celebrated when I had my first grazed knee at 2 years – prior to that I achieved quite a few facial scars – chin, eyebrow, forehead, etc… lol!

  151. and I thought I was clumsy metanoia heh, with me it was my hands, arms, legs or feet that got hurt

  152. I’m with Kylie and I live in the US. I have been in enough emergency rooms with my own children to know that they don’t wait until social services get there to treat children who are in pain. This is totally silly. Come on folks. How many of you have been to an emergency room with a child and how many have you has this happened to?

  153. Is it only valid, then, if it happens to all of us? Or most of us?
    Is it so hard to believe that others have been through similar enough situations to have no trouble believing it could go to this point?

    When do we start believing it… when everyone has seen it happen? Do we wait until it is universal before we stop dismissing it because it never happened to us, or do we, maybe, listen to the voices warning us that these things *can* happen and that we should all be aware to *keep* it from becoming the way things are, everywhere.

    Has this exact thing happened to me? No. Do I believe it could happen? Unfortunately, yes. Because I *have* seen enough that this isn’t that much of a leap. As have others here.

    If we wait until it is common, it will just be that much harder to change. If we pay attention instead of scoffing, we may prevent things like this from going that far.

  154. KLY, please believe me that I’m not scoffing or dismissing at all. Because I work in the same environment and have an understanding of the process, treatment, outcomes etc I am having trouble understanding how this could be protocol anywhere, let alone even legal if the story is exactly as recounted to, or by, Lenore. I think Lenore wants free-thinking parents, not just free-range kids, and would maybe even like the amount of debate that this topic has produced. I am definitely not dismissing but I do think, and hope, that there is more to this story. As a registered nurse, I would like more information.

  155. There has been a lot of dismissive tone here. I can understand being shocked and even skeptical, but it does strike me as unhealthy when others, who *have* seen things that make this believable to them, are brushed off by people saying “you must be mistaken, that wouldn’t happen” or “I’ve never seen anything like that, so it can’t be as bad as you say.”

    I totally agree there are things we don’t know here… but that doesn’t necessarily mean the story is wrong, automatically. We don’t know who dropped the ball. It could have been a bad policy taken too far by an overzealous (or just negligent) staff member. It could be that somewhere, recently, protocol was criticized and they have been put on zero tolerance (which is how a good bit of iffy policy turns absolutely ludicrous). It could be a badly written law/policy/code most do not take literally, and someone here did. Yes. There is more to know about *where* the breakdown happened.

    But that does not mean it did not happen. It does not mean that a mother was not told that her son was not seen because they were waiting on the social worker. And it most assuredly does not mean that we should not pay attention to those stepping up and saying it fits the pattern they have seen. It should just mean that we need to pay closer attention and be willing to draw a line.

    Because even if it were not official policy, the truth is that there is enough precedent out there, already, for someone to get away with doing just this thing. It’s a slippery slope, and many commenters here have chimed in with where they have felt that slipping begin, themselves.

    I do agree that the debate is good, I just think the approach we have with one another is important, too. And I think that in focusing on just the possibility of the original story and ignoring all the voices saying “Yes, it is like this” or “yes, this is where it seems to be heading”, we are ignoring the real value of this thread. It’s a chance to become aware of how bad it might get, if we let it.

    And just for the record, I did continue to poll the nurses and such here (I’m in the hospital at the moment, so it was handy like that), and not a one was surprised by this. They were horrified or outraged, but mostly also sad because of how things have been going and what *they’ve* seen.

  156. 😦😦😦

    I hope this story gets really ‘loud’ and gets something changed.

  157. KLY, I think Kylie’s just saying that this smells like a screw-up, or Extremely Bad Judgment on the part of one set of health care workers, not something that’s likely to be actual health care protocol anywhere.

    I think that’s reasonable, though I will suggest that it’s at least possible that it’s “policy” or “protocol” not necessarily because the law says so, or because the social services department wants it to be so, but because some risk management person at the hospital who needs to find another line of work has a bee in her bonnet and set forth a Really Bad Policy. But I do think it’s fair to express skepticism that ER workers, acting on their own, would actually think this a reasonable course of action, unless they were exceptionally bad apples in the system.

  158. @Sky: Regarding this:

    “On a side note, I am kind of curious as to what a 6-year old was doing eating a bowl of extremely hot soup at almost 10 at night. Most 6 year olds I know, including mine, have an 8 o’clock bedtime, 9 at the latest, which doesn’t really correspond with a 9:30 hot soup time.”

    While my 6-year-old goes to bed at 8 (I stagger bedtimes, so everyone gets their story, and there’s no fighting over the bathroom), there have been some wacky nights where we have been stuck out somewhere, for whatever reason, and not gotten home until past everyone’s bedtime. If we haven’t eaten, guess what’s for dinner? We open a can of something we can nuke. I’m assuming that in this family’s case, it was soup.
    At least they didn’t have him at a sit-down restaurant, where I see plenty of kids well past the hour of 10PM, even on a weeknight. Sometimes things happen that just keep you out late.

  159. WTF?! Really, the hospital refused to treat a 2nd degree burned child because, he could have been abused and social services needed interview him. Ummm…THAT’S child abuse. A place, and people who are OBLIGATED to treat injuries REFUSES to, letting the child sit there for 3 hours in pain…UNNECESSARILY. I take the hospital to court. If it’s “law” they should have that posted in big bold letters at the registration desk. Absolutely, unacceptable, and completely asinine. What is this world coming to.

  160. I would have called 911 they get processed immediately no wait or anything

  161. Personally, I would have waited only 30-40 minutes, asked what the heck was going on and left if they refused to treat my son. I would have gone somewhere else.

    OR I would have done what Michelle Wolfe suggested and had called 911 tfirst o get an ambulance to the house.

  162. It occurs to me that the first to do would be to put the kid in the shower (bring him in with me) and run it cold – through the clothing. Once good and soaked, remove the pants and continue.

    And yes, walk out when the idiots aren’t competent.

    And, while I don’t care for many lawsuits – I’d like to find a pro bono lawyer to try this one – hold out for punitive damages and a change in policy.

    An anecdote. Infant daughter, sick and puking, 1AM at the local hospital (not the ER per se). MAle nurse tried three times to stick her for saline IV. I walked out, and slowly gave her water – 1/4 oz at a time.

    Ironically, the sticks may have distracted the nausea response – “free treatment”.

    Wife said later the nurse was stinking of booze.

  163. That is awful! Where is the common sense?

  164. There’s no guarantee that calling 911 will get a patient seen any faster, at least where I live. If you call an ambulance for a stubbed toe (and yes, people do call for that and even more minor complaints) you will be triaged just like a walk-in.

    And if a hospital has a “policy” that injured children can’t be seen til the social worker arrives, then that policy probably applies to those brought in my ambulance as well. On the plus side, hopefully the EMTs/paramedics started some preliminary care.

  165. today in the ER… I’m there, alone, because my 4yo might have popped a ligament in my wrist, at best, broken it at worst. The first words out of the triage nurse was “from hitting her, right?”

    I guess a 40lbs child can’t just throw all of their weight onto a delicate portion of their parent and injure them in the eyes of the er staff. *eyeroll*

    I told the nurse I took offense at that question because I did NOT hit her. Talk about “guilty until proven innocent.” Anyone wanna lay odds that child services is going to make a visit within the next two weeks?

  166. I never think of stuff on the spot, but to snotty nurse:

    “Sorry, we aren’t trash like you.”

    Or, better:

    ” I’m so sorry your childhood was so traumatic. It must be difficult to live with being abused”

    Or:

    “Why don’t you find a colleague with a better attitude – I’ll wait”

    Or:

    “Thank you so much! I’d shake your hand, except my wrist hurts just now. A dose of insult makes my injury so much more memorable!”

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