Wednesday, 29 September 2010

SBS: Hospital defends its accusatory stance toward parents when child was brought in.

 Anthony Gottschlich

October 10, 2006
SUGARCREEK TWP., Montgomery County — As she cradled her infant son in the Intensive Care Unit at Children’s Medical Center of Dayton, Amber Shawen sat mystified at the 2-month-old’s sudden death.
Then hospital staff members approached her and her husband, Preston, with the unthinkable.

“They told us it was Shaken Baby Syndrome,” Amber Shawen recalled Monday from her home. “They pried my son out of my arms and told me I was under investigation.”
But Ethan Alan Shawen did not die from Shaken Baby Syndrome on Aug. 20. He died from meningitis, according to the autopsy report released by the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office last week. An unknown organism caused the blood clots and swelling in Ethan’s brain, the report states. No child abuse was found.
The report closes the Kettering Police Department’s investigation of the case (the Shawens lived in Kettering when Ethan died) but brings little solace to the newlywed couple.
“If someone would have caught (the meningitis diagnosis) sooner, Ethan would still be alive,” Amber said.
Thomas Murphy, Children’s vice president for medical affairs, said he couldn’t talk about the Shawen case specifically because of privacy laws. He said that each patient death is reviewed at multiple levels, including after an autopsy, and that the Shawen family could meet with hospital staff members to discuss the case if desired.
The treatable but sometimes fatal meningitis, or swelling of the outer layers of the brain and spinal cord, can be caused by a bacterium or virus. It shares several symptoms with Shaken Baby Syndrome, including vomiting, lethargy and seizures.
The similarities raise questions about parents imprisoned for child abuse based on a Shaken Baby Syndrome diagnosis. Some medical experts and watchdog groups say the babies may be victims of undiagnosed vaccine damage.
If it weren’t for the coroner’s office, Amber said, “My husband would probably be sitting in jail, and so would I.”

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