Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Several years ago Ruth came in in tears, little Pip in tow. The thing was, Ruth and David had not been getting on for ages, had been separated for months, and were in the opening skirmishes of a divorce. Pip had just been to Dad's for the weekend. Although more than two years old, Pip was still in pull ups most of the time. Potty training had not, after all, been high on anybodies agenda.

So on Friday night Pip had gone to visit Daddy. Daddy had pulled down the pull ups (something he had never, hitherto, been called on to do). Pip's nether parts were very red. Daddy took Pip to A&E. After a cursory examination by a locum Paediatric consultant the redness was pronounced to be a scald. Daddy said it was like this when Pip came to him, so Mummy must have done it.

Police Officers and Social Workers were dragooned in, and Mummy stood accused. By the time she attended surgery on Monday, just three days after the initial allegation, Pip's skin had a normal healthy pinkness to it and was literally as smooth as the babies bottom it was and had always been. (Well toddler's bottom by now obviously...)

Now I know I'm only an humble GP, but, in my experience, scalds of the nature alleged do not clear up in such a timeframe. And scalded kids do not permit an examination with the calm nonchalance Pip displayed on this visit. Ruth begged me to write a letter to that effect with which she might arm her lawyers, but it was no good. Dr Locum Consultant had confirmed Pip's Non-Accidental Injury, and who was I to say different.

The feuding between Ruth and David carried on over the next few years, largely acted out in alegation and counter over the care and welfare of their children, with him overfeeding them, her neglecting their hygeine.... and so on and so forth.

As of now Pip and her siblings seem to have managed to grow up quite well despite their parent's best efforts. But as for their future relationships and well being I can't help but have some doubts.

Convinced as I am that the initial allegation was entirely false, subsequent behaviour on the part of both their parents,though not physically injurious, has likely left scars far deeper than any scald would have done.


Wendz in France said...

Sad. It's so difficult to maintain an amicable relationship with an ex and things are always done differently in each home..but peace can be kept if you really try. Just for the kids is good enough reason.

Doctor Jest said...

wendz-- and that is the difference between parents who have found it impossible to live together and those who look upon children as commodities. I applaud all those in the former categorgy (by far the majority) who struggle to achieve a modus vivendi.

I find the behaviour of the Ruths and Davids of this world a great disappointment.

Wendz in France said...

People like that need to be ordered by a judge to attend family mediation sessions. They do work. We went to them (voluntarily though) and it was a great help.

Catriona said...

Sadly these things don't change. A friend's child was sent to the local drop-in centre with suspected impetigo for some nurse to announce it was cigarette burns and a similar situation ensued.

The impetigo cleared up nicely and most certainly wasn't burns when it was checked by a police doctor a week later.

Doctor Jest said...

wendz-- how true. At last UK courts are doing much the same and much more often. T'was not the case back then.

catriona-- another pitfall for the unwary. I just wonder whether Nurse had just been on an NAI course... Staph lesions can look awfully like burns, but the presentation of the child afflicted with either should give a better clue to the origin. Or so one would hope.

Shinga said...

Completely wretched. I do not understand why divorce/separation in other countries seems to be so much more civilised and less adversarial than it is here.

There are various studies that indicate that children of divorce/parental splits experience a greater frequency of both eczema and asthma exacerbations.

Sometimes I work with children for whom it seems that nobody is taking responsibility for their lifestyles: home-cooked food, regular bed-times, hostility-free homes, smoke-free homes. Some parents want to use children as bargaining chips without stepping-up to provide an appropriate home-life themselves.

Must stop grumbling.

Regards - Shinga

the granola said...

Hope you don't mind, but I'm including this post in Pediatric Grand Rounds at the granola rules. If you do, please contact me and I'll remove it.


purple_kangaroo said...

How very strange. My child often gets diaper rashes that look like scalds or chemical burns as a result of her food allergies. They appear within minutes of the offending bowel movement (even though the diaper is changed quickly) and sometimes take a day or two to clear up. Isn't a diaper rash that looks similar to a scald pretty common?

Anonymous said...

This stuff goes on all the time. I had a friend who was divorced from her husband. For the first couple years things were ok and none of this went on. Then husband meets a woman and gets married again.

The first time the child meets his new step-mom he is told, by dad, .."If you love me will call her mommy." God, what a jerk..Next visit child was taken by the new step-mom to a counselor of some type who says child has been neglected at home...CPS is called.

They show up at mom's unannounced and determine this child to be anything other than neglected. They opened and closed their case all at one time. On further investigation it is found that child counselor who step-mom took child to is actually step-mom's sister. Took awhile for that to come out because of the different last names.

I could never understand why Dad allowed this to happen. End result, he lost all parental rights to his child. What is wrong with people?

Doctor Jest said...

shinga-- there seems to be a growing trend to view children as a commodity when parents separate, and once accusations start to fly they tend to escalate beyond any capacity for the relevant welfare organizations to keep pace with. The ones who suffer are, as you rightly point out, the kids.

the granola-- I'm honoured as ever to be considered worthy. And thanks for hosting the PGR, it looks like a lot of work, but I for one do appreciate it.

purple 'roo-- you are quite right, which is what made this case so frustrating.

Anon-- what a nightmare scenario. Was there any comeback against the interfering "counsellor" at all?