The boy suffered from severe malnutrition, starvation, open lesions, bedsores and uncontrolled seizures. In school when he was examined, he could not walk or feed himself and he lay on a cot in the fetal position. Thank you Paul Walsh for reporting on this important community event and writing a strong article. Please follow up and let us know how the story ends.

This severely disabled child was turned away from the Lake City Medical Center after being alerted by social workers of his urgent need of medical care;he was sent home with a note (where he had just come from).

The story caught my eye because it similar to what happened to a child in my guardian ad-Litem caseload except that my young friend got immediate relief from a toxic environment when the care provider quickly determined that this condition must be investigated.

Starved, beaten, tied to a bed and sexually abused, my seven year old needed an advocate. The damage lasts for a lifetime. Nothing makes it disappear. Catching and treating horrific abuse early allows a greater chance at recovery.

The only voice a young child has when being terribly abused is a teacher, a social worker, a medical person or some other caring adult.

Children have no voice of their own. They can’t understand what is happening to them and they often don’t know it is wrong.

They only know that it is their own life and that it hurts.

That terribly abused children can be turned away from hospitals and sent directly back into an abusive home speaks volumes about our community.

Today 2/3 of child abuse calls are being screened out of child protection in Hennepin County. The national average is 1/3.

Yes, I agree that providing more services to people that are screened out is a positive approach (the argument for the greater number of screened out calls). My experience has been that the system is overwhelmed and underfunded, and this young boy may be out of the home, but what about others like him that go unreported or untreated?

How do you think the hospital in your community would handle such a case?

I know people that refuse to believe that the abuse being reported could possibly be occurring (especially the sexual abuse of very young children).

There are three million cases of child abuse reported in this nation each year (when we count them).

Let’s implement procedures to make sure that this sort of error is minimized. “What you do to your children, they will do to your society”. Pliny 2500 years ago

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Lake City ER sends starving disabled boy home with just a note

Lake City Medical Center cited for violations.

Last update: June 17, 2010 – 8:16 PM

A severely disabled boy was wrongly sent home from a hospital emergency room in Lake City, Minn., without an assessment or treatment — but with a note saying he was well enough to return to school — after Wabasha County officials ordered the boy’s parents to seek treatment for his unexplained injuries and weakness.

The next day, officials say, local authorities sent an ambulance to the boy’s home and took him to a different hospital, where he was admitted for several days with what state investigators described as “severe malnutrition, starvation, bedsores and uncontrolled seizures.”

In a report made public Thursday, the Minnesota Department of Health cited Mayo Health System’s Lake City Medical Center for violating two federal rules on emergency room care. They concluded that a nurse at the hospital granted the father’s request that the boy not be examined but be sent home with a note.

Lake City Police Chief Lyle Schumann said Thursday his office is investigating whether the family should be charged with a crime.

Under federal rules, the hospital should have recorded the boy’s March 4 visit to the emergency room and conducted a medical assessment to determine whether he required emergency treatment — regardless of what the father wanted — said Stella French, who supervises the Health Department investigators.

The Health Department did not offer any identifying information about the boy, his family or any other individuals. County, hospital and police officials also declined to release the boy’s name, age or school.

How the story unfolded

According to the Health Department report:

School nurses examined the boy on March 1 and 2 after he was absent for a week. They saw several open lesions on his back and noted he could not walk or feed himself and lay on a school cot in the fetal position. They contacted the parents both days and urged that he see a doctor. After the boy missed school on March 3, the school notified county social service officials of the boy’s “urgent need for medical care.”

Social service and law enforcement officials told the family to take the boy to an emergency room as soon as possible. The father took the boy to Lake City Medical Center that evening. He told the nurse that he didn’t want his son examined by a doctor but wanted a note saying his son could return to school.

On a prescription pad, the nurse wrote that the boy was “vitally stable and there is no emergent/urgent need that needs our attention.”

When Wabasha County social service officials discovered the next day that the boy had not been treated, they went to the house, were given the nurse’s note by the father and immediately called an ambulance.

An administrative nurse at Lake City told the Health Department she reviewed the case with the emergency room nurse and counseled him about his performance.

Protocols not followed

In a statement Thursday afternoon, the hospital said “the child’s condition did not appear to be serious when he was first seen in our emergency department.”

However, it acknowledged “our policies and protocols, designed to protect patients, were not fully followed.”

The hospital also noted that “we identified and implemented several improvements to our processes as a result of this situation to ensure that an incident like this does not happen again.”

The nurse cited in the Health Department report is still employed at the hospital in acute care, said hospital spokeswoman Asia Christensen. She declined to say whether the nurse was disciplined in any way. No appeal of the state’s findings is planned, Christensen said.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482