Thursday, April 13, 2006

Accident Equals Visit From CPS?

Today it’s not me, it’s Rebecca talking about Britney and her brush with CPS. Her post surprised me, because she wrote that it’s common from her experience for parents to be questioned suspiciously when their kids have accidents.

I took my first baby to the emergency room so many times for every little thing, called poison control a few times and even called for advice when he fell off the couch onto the tile, smacking the back of his head several months ago (Ouch!). In fact when he was 2.5 he managed to push off his high chair tray and bang his head on our glass dining table, leaving a very scary-looking mark above his eye (Well I guess it wasn't that scary-looking since the ER doctor just wiped it clean, put a band-aid on it and sent us home).

But I've never been questioned suspiciously. I discussed this once with a lovely ER Nurse and she said, "Dear, abusive parents don't tend to race their kid to the emergency room on Saturday night because he was scratched by a cat."

Yes, we really did that. And yes, I think she was making fun of us... I can't imagine why. I’m sure a lot of bad things can result from an (allegedly) “harmless” cat scratch.

Seriously though I think medical professionals are trained to look for signals other than a hurt kid to spot potential abuse. I find it hard to believe that CPS visits every parent who’s been in the ER. Either something else made them suspicious about Britney’s situation or they did it because of her high profile. Kids have accidents all the time. My Little One, the daredevil, is so bruised up as a matter of course that if I didn’t know better I’d swear he moonlights as a kick boxer. But… his doctor seems to think he looks like a normal little boy.

Has anyone here been made to feel suspect in the ER?


Cindy said...

my littlest brother was THE biggest accident prone boy ever. He had his first stitches at 10mon. old and many more after. Through all the hospital trips they never questioned my mom seriously. Probably because there were three more of us little rugrats and we seemed ok.

Jenn said...

We've made several trips to the ER, but only once was I ever made to feel suspicious, and that was when my middle son (at the time only 10 months) pulled a kettle down and burned both his hands with scalding hot water. I called 911 right away, and they were quick to arrive, but the local hospital looked at him for all of 27 seconds before determining that they didn't have the facilities to deal with a burn that bad, so he was rushed (by ambulance again) to Children's hospital downtown. by this time his hands resembled two rubber gloves that had been inflated like balloons. I felt horrible for not watching him closer and the first thing they did was document his burns with pictures. I just felt like they were trying to gather as much 'evidence' as they could, in case they needed it.
We were never questioned by CPS though, I guess my blubbering tears and anxious waiting convinced them that I did indeed care about him. He spent 2 months going to the burn unit, and now has only a very small scar on two of his fingers on his right hand, and some faint redness to his palms.
If the same thing had happened to a celebrity, it would be front page news - I'm glad I didn't have a camera around capturing my tear-stained face. (I did take pictures of his hands when they changed the bandages though)

Sea Change said...

I think that it's good they're doing their job, in the case that someone is, in fact, abusing their child.

But I can't imagine being mistaken for one of those parents! Especially when it's an accident-prone child. I had a best friend growing up, and she was always getting hurt in such peculiar ways, and they got some attention from hospital staff, also.

How sad it is that good people have to put up with this treatment because the abusers spoiled it for the rest of us.

Big Orange said...

if you CAN get ER staff to give you the hairy eyeball, it means you've actually SEEN ER staff!! That's a rarity some times!!

Actually, I worked at a Level I pediatric trauma center in Cleveland (Rainbow Babies & Childrens) and there were SOOO many kids in and out of there that suspicion wasn't raised but very, VERY rarely, and that wasn't for regular stuff but for an infant who was supposedly coughing blood and needed her stomach pumped. THAT was weird. Bumps, bruises, cuts n' scrapes are so common as to be almost dismissable. There are actual signs that ER staff are trained to look for (I remember a pattern of burns on both feet and bum being one-- indicating that a child had been made to sit in scalding water) but the general feeling was that the reason they're called "accidents" is because no one planned for them to happen.

Tim said...

One of my daughters is particularly accident prone (she has mild CP) and has made several visits to various ERs. Her injuries have included a cut on her forehead and a hanger in her eye (yes, it was terrible - shudderingly so - but there was no damage beyond some short-term inflammation). In both cases, nurses filled out quite-detailed accident reports for CPS, but we were never questioned. It struck me as routine.

Redneck Nerdboy! said...

If we can even GET INTO the ER, after waiting hours around coughing, hacking, moaning people with knives sticking out of their heads and stuff, the doctors don't seem to even notice.

But by that time, I'm usually too exhausted and strung out on adrinaline to care if they think I'm abusive or not. At least she doesn't have a knife sticking out of her head, right doc?