Parental Rights

My 2 year old son fell at the babysitters house around 8:30am a few days ago. She called me as soon as he fell and told me that she was preparing breakfast when he fell and that she didn’t see the fall. She for warned me that he had a black eye and a bump on his head but he seemed ok. I responded as “boys will be boys” and to give him some motrin if he seems to have a headache. They continued with their daily routine; went to storytime at the library came home had lunch-which he didn’t really seem to want to eat, then went down for a nap. He woke up at 3pm vomitting. Once again, my babysitter called me immediately saying she thought he may be coming down with the stomach bug (my 3 year old just had it last week so it made sense). I went and picked up my children and started home with we thought that he was getting the stomach bug. My son vomitted 2 more times within 2 hours. My neighbor is a nurse a suggested we get him checked out just because he had hit his head that morning. We went to the Emergency Room and it turned out he had cracked his skull. When the drs confirmed he had a fractured skull we were immedialtey treated like criminals. I understand the process of having to look out for the child but this happened at the babysitters house! Our babysitter actually came to the hopsital to answer questions and made it known that my son was at her house.
As to be expected-my son was kept in the hospital over night. We were given a “sitter” at the hospital and were not allowed to be left alone with my child. My son was poked, probbed, restrained and terrified. At no point was I able to bond with my child because my husband and I were being constantly “watched.” I understand not leaving my child alone with the babysitter but why us as the parents??? What are the rights of parents??? Were my parental rights violated???

Reported for forum change.

How does the mere presence of another person interfere with your ability to “bond” with your child?

Since this is probably a legal question, it’s more suited to IMHO than ATMB.


The OP asks whether certain procedures at the hospital were violative of her parental rights. Because the hospital stay appears to have already ended without lasting damage to any of the parties, I’d close the question as not justiciable due to mootness.

I’m sure you weren’t, because you are posting on an internet messageboard. A criminal is arrested, charged, tried, and punished.

What do you mean by “treated by criminals”?

Please define “sitter”? Did they tell you that this person was being put into the room to potentially protect your son from you? Is it possible that it was just SOP for toddlers with head injuries? That is, to have a medical person monitor them overnight?

I also don’t understand why you couldn’t bond with your son, or what you mean by “bond”. Do you mean that they wouldn’t let you pick him up or something? IANAL but it doesn’t really sound as if your “rights” were violated. If these things were done for medical reasons especially.

However, (and I’ll wait for clarification from you), if by things like “being treated like criminals” you mean that they actually accused you, interrogated you beyond thorough medical type questions about his history and the events leading up to his injury then that’s certainly something you want to bring to the hospital’s attention regarding their customer service.

Medical workers are like anyone else, there are good ones and bad ones, and just because they’re a medical professional doesn’t mean that they’re an authority figure, YOU are the customer and poor customer service should be reported.

I had a milder but similar experience with my senior-aged mother a few years back. My sister and I were absolutely LIVID and confronted the doctor in question about it at the time of service. We insisted upon talking to his superior and afterward wrote a stern “unhappy customer” letter to the hospital director. The young doctor did indeed “bow to our will” after we (nicely and calmly) threw a fit. He called his superior, the man sided with us and we got our mom admitted to the hospital.

The young’n had been acting as if my mom were not really sick but he insinuated that “some people do this because they want to be taken care of and have a little break”. As if! No one wants to be in the hospital, are you kidding?

Anyway, long story short. Don’t be intimidated merely because gasp he’s a (waaa AAAH choir singing) ** Doctor **! Write the hospital director and if you don’t get satisfaction there, also write the BBB.

It takes quite a lot of force to break a toddler’s skull. A fall while running isn’t usually enough to do it.

Whether or not you were watching him at the time, the hospital may have had concerns that the story they were given didn’t match up with the clinical picture. There may have been a concern that the fall at the babysitter’s didn’t explain the injuries, and thus a feeling that he had been injured prior to this.

In those circumstances the rights of the child are the priority, and that includes taking reasonable precautions to
a) prevent further harm
b) suss out what kind of relationship you have with your son.

Now, YOU know nothing happened to your son that was out of line, but the hospital doesn’t, and has to have a fairly low threshold for suspecting abuse, because, yes, it happens and kids die.

The fact that no-one said outright that you were thought to have caused his injuries, and social services weren’t involved means that the hospital were happy that you didn’t cause his injuries.

In these circumstances the right of the child to safety is paramount and supersedes the right of the parent. So, yes, it probably was a horrible experience for you, but if you HAD beaten your son and been trying to cover it up it’s the only way the hospital has of trying to find that out.

Quite frankly requiring parental permission for extra supervision in cases of suspected child abuse is nonsensical.

Corporations are machines, and whether the machine is right or wrong, it will do what it is created to do.

The staff at the hospital are mandated reporters. They could lose their jobs and even their license to practice medicine for failing to report an incident of suspected neglect.

If, as Irishgirl suggests, they felt the story and the injury did not quite match up, they had a legal obligation to investigate further.

And, honestly, if the story and the clinical picture don’t match up, you needed to know about it, considering that it didn’t happen with you there. As **irishgirl **says, the toddler skull is indeed very hard to crack, and most of the time, it’s caused by a blow to the head delivered by an angry or overwhelmed adult. If your babysitter’s story didn’t explain what the doctors found, you need to consider whether or not the babysitter is telling you the whole story. I can say though, that they must have decided that you weren’t an abuser, or you wouldn’t have been allowed to take the child home without at the very least a visit from Child Services.

I’m also not sure why the sitter’s presence meant you couldn’t “bond” with your child. Did she say you couldn’t hold him? Talk to him? Cuddle him? Sitters are there to ensure safety, but she shouldn’t interfere with your safe interaction with the child.

CanvasShoes, a “sitter” is an unlicensed assistive person (maybe a CNA, maybe not) who is hired to sit in a patient’s room and make sure they’re safe. They’re not there to provide medical care (although the nice ones will help the patient bathe or get out of bed safely), they’re literally there to sit and watch. They’re often used for confused patients who are at a high risk for falls or pulling out their IVs and such. If the hospital has the staff, it’s considered better than drugs or physical restraints to keep them from hurting themselves. On pediatric floors, sitters are also used for patients for whom the parents might present a risk to safety - suspected (but not proven) abusers, for example.

No, your parental rights weren’t violated. Your parental rights are rights to make decisions for your child including education, religion and health care (to a point), to name the child, to provide reasonable discipline to the child, to allow or disallow confidential information about your child to be shared, to have contact with the child and to confer legal guardianship of your child to another person. Which of these rights do you think were violated?

IANAD, however my brother concussed himself many times as a child* and I feel I should mention that vomiting after a head injury is **not[/] a good thing and needs medical attention asap. I realise that probably neither you nor your babysitter knew that, but it’s possible that the delay in seeking medical help might have made the hospital concerned that things were not as they seemed.

*No child abuse, just a very adventurous kid. He’s currently recovering from a broken collar bone recieved mountain biking (now in his late 20s).

If you read a story about a child who had been beaten to death and had a history of being taken to the hospital with a cracked skull in the past… you’d be here ranting (or silently ranting to yourself) about how nothing was done to protect the child, investigate the situation, etc.

Exactly. I took my kid to hospital when she cried after throwing a rock, turns out she had snapped her clavicle (?) the x-ray showed it broken like a twig. She’d fallen off the bed the night before onto a pub sized ashtray we had a mosquito coil burning in. I explained what I thought had happened but after the x-ray the doctor put up his hand and said - I need to hear it from the kid.

I immediately felt completely cold … the doc was considering child abuse here. A few weeks later she was back getting stitches around her eye after slipping and smashing her head onto a desk at school. I can’t tell you how relieved I was that there were lots of witnesses.

You beat me to it… medical staff are not the ones who investigate to prove whether abuse happened, they are required to report anything suspicious and leave the investigating to social services.

But I’ll also add, that a child presenting with a black eye, a cracked skull, and parents confirmed that he’d been vomiting for hours after he hit his head and no one sought out medical care for him… well, my first thought was how unbelievable and suspicious that looked, too.

“He fell and ended up with a black eye” is suspicious by itself (it sounds like “I walked into a door” and is about as probable – an ordinary bump on the head doesn’t blacken an eye). But my personal internal alarm system sent up flares and rockets at “He hit his head, started vomiting, and we didn’t bother to take him to a doctor.”

Yeah, the staff responded appropriately.

I totally agree. I’m not a doctor, but I do know that any head injury that results in or is combined with vomiting should be an enormous red flag. Out of curiosity, does your daycare provider have any training in CPR? Because that is VERY basic. If she doesn’t, she should get some, especially if she’s the lone childcare provider in her home.

Also, my understanding of head trauma is that the kid has to be monitored very closely to make sure they don’t start seizing, vomiting again or doing anything else that might indicate shock or brain damage. I’d be surprised if the hospital didn’t monitor your child closely.

How timely. Just this morning I read the case of a guy (a grown, adult male) who hit his head falling from tailgate height off the back of a pick up traveling at idle speed (like 2mph or so?) onto a road. No reports of vomiting in his chart anywhere and in fact the only marks he had on him was some road rash on one shoulder and he was dead within 12 hours of arriving at the emergency department (on his own two feet, even; he appeared totally fine when he got there) so we don’t always have every right sign and symptom to say “Hey, this is a Really Bad Thing.”

Head injuries are serious even when they’re not because you just don’t know what’s going on in there and I personally would have any head injury in my own children checked out just to be on the safe side.

Addressing the delay in treatment, one of the claims against my son’s father when I had him put on supervised visitation was that my son sustained head injuries in his care (crashed a four-wheeler; he was four) and he failed to seek medical care. I took him to the ER when I got him back more than 24 hours later and, aside from severe bruising, he was totally fine. Even so, his father’s failure to act was enough for a judge to rule in my favor. Something to think about.

I’m not a medical professional and have only a general knowledge of first aid, and even I know that vomiting after a blow to the head is something to be taken extremely seriously.

If I were the OP, I would be more concerned that my child care provider doesn’t have this basic knowledge and less concerned that the hospital was being exceptionally careful about who had unfettered access to my child.

Came in here to say this. I think it’s completely natural for the OP to feel like her and her husband have been wronged, misjudged, treated like common criminals. We’ve had Dopers react similarly when trying to adopt an animal form a shelter! And it’s possible the doctors and admin involved were overly harsh in their actions and attitudes. But yes, this is one situation where the OP will hopefully look back at what happened and realize it’s better for everyone if authorities err on the side of caution. When they don’t, you end up with cases like this and this.

The severity of a problem is inversely proportional to the number of question marks used in asking us about it.