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Nationwide Children's Hospital lawsuit raises sensitive issues

Last year, a concerned mother took her 3-month-old son to the doctor after he appeared to be ill. He was prescribed antibiotics but his health did not improve. His mother took him back to the doctor after noticing that his leg seemed to be sore.

The physician's office referred her to Nationwide Children's in Columbus for further testing. Doctors at Nationwide discovered that the baby's thigh was fractured and were understandably concerned that child abuse was involved. However, the boy's mother said that hospital staff took the investigation too far, ordering full-body X-rays and head scans for the 3-month-old and his 2-year-old brother.

The parents filed a lawsuit against Nationwide Children's Hospital because they believe the hospital's actions were inappropriate. While they initial abuse inquiry is understandable, they believe the X-ray radiation exposure and investigation by Franklin County Children Services were excessive and harmful.

The lawsuit raises a sensitive issue. Parents should be encouraged to have their children treated for injuries without fear of abuse allegations. On the other hand, physicians are in a unique situation to uncover child abuse that would otherwise go unnoticed and unreported.

Injuries happen, they are part of life. In the aforementioned case, the boy's broken leg occurred while he was riding in a front-pack child carrier. His mom bent over and was inadvertently injured. He briefly called out in pain, but his mother was not initially able to link that incident with the subsequent symptoms.

Source: Columbus Dispatch, "Parents Sue Nationwide Children's Hospital Over Child Abuse Suspicions," Kathy Lynn Gray, Sept. 22, 2014

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