Shaken Baby

  1. I am a senior in a BSN program and the last couple of days make me wonder if I can in fact be a nurse. In my clinical I took care of a newborn baby that was suspected to have been shaken to the point of loosing the ability to breath. I did everything by the book - helped the baby and the family. I even showed the dad the shaken baby tape and explained anger managment (walk away, count to ten - take deep breaths). I helped the primary nurse fill out the suspected abuse forms and call for the opthemologist consult and ultrasound tests. I did everything by the book - the right way and in the right order. After all tests and paperwork was completed our tiny pt was released with an apnea monitor and follow up from family services was arranged. Several weeks have passed, my clinical is finished and as I prepare for my final exams I notice on the local news that this baby - now 1 month old - was brought back to the hospital this time beaten and shaken to death and the dad is in police custody charged with murder. Everything was done "by the book" - so why is this little baby dead - and what as a nursing student could I have done to prevent this from happening. I feel like a useless fool for trusting this baby to "the system" that failed to protect. Should I give up my dream of working with children because I will never be able to help them be well and safe? My heart aches and all I can do is hug my own little daughter. My school has no berievment program or services available and I feel like - I think everyone has the idea how bad.
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  2. 41 Comments

  3. by   augigi
    The system unfortunately doesn't always work. I could not work in that area.
  4. by   BJLynn
    Quote from royr
    Should I give up my dream of working with children because I will never be able to help them be well and safe? My heart aches and all I can do is hug my own little daughter. My school has no berievment program or services available and I feel like - I think everyone has the idea how bad.
    Don't give up on your dream. The fact that this has touched you so deeply shows that you care very much. And nurses like you are needed to work with children. Don't throw this experiance away. Use what you have learned from this little baby in future cases you may see. That would be the best way you could honor this little ones life. As far as bereavement services, you may want to look up a domestic violence shelter. They may be able to be of some service to you.

    Again, don't give up. Keep fighting for the patients who can't fight for themselves.
  5. by   TazziRN
    You did everything you possibly could. This baby fell through the cracks somehow, but that's on Protective Services, not you.
  6. by   Eirene
    what a tragedy.

    know that you did everything you could in your position. this child was neglected by human and child services. there was nothing more that you could have done. this makes me ill that this little child was put back into that situation.

    i'm sorry you're hurting. bless this little child's soul and bless your soul.
  7. by   RGN1
    Don't give up - you obviously care - you really, really did do everything right you can't beat yourself up about it.

    That poor little mite is safe from harm now & you did your best. We need caring nurses like you so please move on. Life sucks sometimes & as nurses you do sometimes hit the front line but I'm sure that you also have many more happy experiences to look back on too. I'm sure there are plenty of people who you have helped nurse back to health & cared for & made a difference in their day. Remember those moments as the most important ones.

    God bless you xxxx
  8. by   BSNtobe2009
    It's hard for me to even read stories like that and then reality starts sinking in....those babies eventually have to go to a hospital and someone has to take care of them.

    I always thought if there was even a suspicion of child abuse, that it was standard procedure not to send the baby home until a full medical evaluation could be completed, and a home visit, at minimum.

    You didn't screw up sweetie....the social worker did by sending that child back.
  9. by   Christie RN2006
    Quote from BSNtobe2009
    It's hard for me to even read stories like that and then reality starts sinking in....those babies eventually have to go to a hospital and someone has to take care of them.

    I always thought if there was even a suspicion of child abuse, that it was standard procedure not to send the baby home until a full medical evaluation could be completed, and a home visit, at minimum.

    You didn't screw up sweetie....the social worker did by sending that child back.
    I agree! You did everything you could, it was childrens services that screwed up. That whole system is a mess! They leave children in homes that are very dangerous. I mean I see their struggle with the whole thing of what point to take kids, but its when things like this happen that you realize just how messed up the whole system is.

    If you are feeling a lot of guilt over what happened, I would recommend finding a counselor to talk to, but don't give up on your dream! Working with people, both children and adults can be very heartbreaking at times, but overall it is the most rewarding thing you will ever do. If you didn't feel any emotion, then I would be worried. I have cried over patients that have died, I have laughed with families and patients over things, and I have also rejoiced with the families whos loved ones survived something they never should have.
  10. by   MackNJacks mom
    I work on a neuro floor at a children's hospital. Unfortunately we see this stuff more often than I would like. I have seen quite a few of these types of situations, although rarely knowing the outcome. I am so sorry that you had to find out the outcome of that particular pt. Working at a children's hospital you learn the ugly truth about life. I have seen lacerated livers, cigarette burns, and of course the head injuries (and more). We have our own social worker on our floor. There have been many times I have cried on the way home, but I always come back. There are always more children to take care of right? Even as an employee you don't have resources to help cope with this type of stuff. I would assume all most areas of nursing deal with pain, loss, and tragedy. I had to discharge a pt to DFACS custody when I was pretty sure the parents were innocent too. Watching their faces about killed me. You never really know who did this stuff or if it was an accident, and after a while you just hope for the best and do all that you can do. I always enjoy having a happy family to take care of, and I dread the brain tumors and child abuse. I also focus on the really happy recoveries. We had a football injury kid who was paralized and recovered completely! I don't know what else to say but you may find out you are better equipped to handle this type of stuff than you think if your heart is in it. Good luck and know that the baby is safe now.
  11. by   BSNtobe2009
    Quote from Christie RN2006
    I agree! You did everything you could, it was childrens services that screwed up. That whole system is a mess! They leave children in homes that are very dangerous. I mean I see their struggle with the whole thing of what point to take kids, but its when things like this happen that you realize just how messed up the whole system is.

    If you are feeling a lot of guilt over what happened, I would recommend finding a counselor to talk to, but don't give up on your dream! Working with people, both children and adults can be very heartbreaking at times, but overall it is the most rewarding thing you will ever do. If you didn't feel any emotion, then I would be worried. I have cried over patients that have died, I have laughed with families and patients over things, and I have also rejoiced with the families whos loved ones survived something they never should have.
    Then you have other children that have a home to go to, but the social worker is so ignorant and biased that they hold up the process.

    A very close family friend had a chlid informally placed with her by a birth mother...the birth mother was only 27 and had 8 children. The birth mother had been in the foster care system her entire life and had been physically and emotionally and sexually abused and did not want her new baby in foster care.

    So the baby went to live with my friend and the mother signed her rights away, and then a SOCIAL WORKER stepped in and HELD UP THE ADOPTION FOR FIVE YEARS! The biological father stepped in 2 1/2 years into the process, trying to get custody...never mind he had an extensive criminal record, was drug addicted, unemployed and didn't have a place to live and was shacked up with some girlfriend....they actually gave the father the opportunity to clean up his entire life, allowed him visitation, held up the process another 2 1/2 years before the case finally got a new judge that put a stop to all of it and allowed the adoption to go through because the father didn't follow through on a single thing he said he would do.

    The social worker's bias: My friend had a stillborn infant and she felt my friend was trying to replace her dead child.

    What difference did it make??? She and her husband had a wonderful home to give a child and that child is thriving in her care (she is now 8).

    Stories like that drive me nuts!
  12. by   Christie RN2006
    Quote from BSNtobe2009
    Then you have other children that have a home to go to, but the social worker is so ignorant and biased that they hold up the process.

    A very close family friend had a chlid informally placed with her by a birth mother...the birth mother was only 27 and had 8 children. The birth mother had been in the foster care system her entire life and had been physically and emotionally and sexually abused and did not want her new baby in foster care.

    So the baby went to live with my friend and the mother signed her rights away, and then a SOCIAL WORKER stepped in and HELD UP THE ADOPTION FOR FIVE YEARS! The biological father stepped in 2 1/2 years into the process, trying to get custody...never mind he had an extensive criminal record, was drug addicted, unemployed and didn't have a place to live and was shacked up with some girlfriend....they actually gave the father the opportunity to clean up his entire life, allowed him visitation, held up the process another 2 1/2 years before the case finally got a new judge that put a stop to all of it and allowed the adoption to go through because the father didn't follow through on a single thing he said he would do.

    The social worker's bias: My friend had a stillborn infant and she felt my friend was trying to replace her dead child.

    What difference did it make??? She and her husband had a wonderful home to give a child and that child is thriving in her care (she is now 8).

    Stories like that drive me nuts!
    That is rough. I know of at least 2 kids right now that should have been taken out of their homes years ago, but childrens services didn't do anything about it. The kids are so screwed up now... the one actually had a baby with his step sister!

    I have seen times when they step in when there is nothing wrong at all. I know of a family who got their home searched and they were routinely questioned all because their little girl fell off the monkey bars and broke her arm. They didn't believe the families story about it.

    I have also seen times when they step in when it was really needed and they probably saved these kids lives.

    I know of a family right now that is going through a similar situation to the one you posted about your friend. The social worker actually told her that she would consider it a "loss" if my friend got the baby. The babies biological parents are unemployed, drug abusers, have been in and out of jail, etc.
  13. by   perfectbluebuildings
    Shaken babies are some of the most frustrating, anger-inducing and sad cases I have seen. It is one of the hardest things in peds nursing I think. You did nothing wrong. But still I know the hurt seeing a child you tried to save, gone or severely handicapped for life, because someone who was supposed to cherish and care for them, did exactly the opposite. I'm very sorry. I don't think you should give up on this, either, just because of this- there ARE kids you have made a difference to, even though it is so much easier to remember the ones that turned out badly. My heart goes out to you.
  14. by   GingerSue
    you did what was supposed to be done by the book

    and it still didn't solve the problem for that child in that environment

    other professionals were also involved

    what would have helped?

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