Child Abuse – Do The Right People Get Questioned or The Polite People?

A very lovely friend of my has recently taken her 2 and a half year old child to A&E after the child fell on the trampoline and then seemed to have a lot of pain in his leg.

Anyone who knows me well will know that I’m quite picky with my friends and I certainly wouldn’t call someone lovely if I didn’t mean it. She is a very genuine person, very giving, good fun and a brilliant mother. Her son is the absolute picture of health, always well dressed, very loved and he eats more fruit in a day than I eat in a month!

How it happened:

It is a large trampoline and both my friend and her child were on it. Her child bounced and fell forward, on the trampoline, onto his knees.

The child cried but which my friend thought was odd but made no more fuss than she would have done after falling down any other time. My friend carried her child indoors and he had his normal nap. After the nap he said his leg still hurt so he wanted dinner on the sofa; my friend checked his leg and there was no bruising and no swelling, so she assumed he was just playing for sympathy as children do.

After dinner she took him off the sofa to start getting ready for bath and bed, however immediately that he put weight on his leg it was obvious that there was a lot of pain.

My friend then rang NHS Direct for advice who recommended going to A&E ‘just to be sure’.

At A&E my friend booked her son in, explained at the counter what had happened and that there was no bruising or swelling and apologised if she was wasting their time.

By this point her son was happily in his pushchair and singing. To cut a long story short, at the first examination by a doctor it became apparent that they didn’t believe my friend that the accident had happened how it did. She was questioned repeatedly and aggressively. The doctor said the she had fallen on top of her son, she explained again what had happened and the doctor added “but then you fell on him”. He then decided that her son had fallen off the trampoline. She explained again, adding that it had a safety net, but the doctor just kept repeating himself. My friend was terrified.

She was then told to wait in a room with her son while they ‘looked at the x-rays’ – she waited for 2 hours in this room with her son on an uncomfortable chair. It was well passed his bedtime, he was tired and wanted to go home. My friend queried with reception a couple of times why they were waiting so long and reception admitted they had no idea.

At 10pm she was told that her son was to be admitted overnight. But first there were new people to talk to her, with yet more questions. Her son had eczema – they queried why the backs of his knees were so sore. She explained about the eczema and explained what bath oils and creams they used but the questions kept coming. They queried why his nappy was so full. My friend explained that she’d only bought one spare one with her and hadn’t planned on being in A&E for so long! They exchanged looks and then began questioning again how the accident had happened.

My friend was very very scared at this point. Her husband was away with work and she literally sat and thought how she was going to explain to him that their son had been taken off them!

This continued for hours until at 1am her son was admitted to a ward.

The next day a new person came to see her and the questions began again. The new person said they had been called by staff at A&E to investigate as the injury didn’t ‘add up’. Fortunately for my friend this person also had a 2 year old and very quickly ascertained that the accident was AN ACCIDENT!

I fully understand and appreciate that A&E staff are the front line and have to make an immediate assessment of the situation presented to them. But it must have been obvious after the first set of questions that their fears were unfounded?

I can’t help wondering if my friend hadn’t been a very sweet, polite, middle class woman whether she would have been put through all this. Was she simply an easy target for some ‘box ticking’ by the A&E staff? Had she been uninvolved, rude or aggressive, with an angry spouse and another few kids in tow I wonder if her son would have been quickly patched up and sent home?