Nurse calls cops after woman seeks help for postpartum depression. Right call?

  1. "Nurse calls cops after woman seeks help for postpartum depression. Right call?"

    Nurse calls cops after woman seeks help for postpartum depression. Right call? | Minnesota Public Radio News
  2. Visit Accolay profile page

    About Accolay

    Joined: Oct '03; Posts: 232; Likes: 531


  3. by   TAKOO01
    Wow, what a lovely mom and baby. She is really a good person, being that she says she will not sue. She is concerned about the low income patients who may lose funding if she won a lawsuit. It is awesome that she can think about others at this time.
    I suppose the nurse was correct in calling the police because she had to follow protocol. I know I have followed certain protocols I don't agree with in order to keep my job.
    At the same time, it sounds as if the system is set up in a way that can potentially embarrass and stigmatized those seeking help. Maybe the process needs to be revised. Other women who read about this may be reluctant to come forward for help. I know it would scare me off.
    I wonder if the patient is getting any help from the facility for her depression.
  4. by   bagladyrn
    As a mandated reporter I don't see that the nurse had any other option than to follow protocol and call the police.
    How many times have we read a news article of something tragic happening to a child (or any vulnerable person) and asked "Why didn't anyone intervene before it came to that point?".
    I'm sure it was upsetting for the woman but still better than looking back to think "If only I had reported that a tragedy may have been averted."
  5. by   JKL33
    I do think this person sounds lovely, but that's neither here nor there; just that I hope she's doing well.

    There was no good alternative. For that reason, this story and especially the provocative headline are maddening. They had the option of describing a problematic and unfortunate situation without allowing their readers to so easily assume that the nurse made a judgment call (which it wasn't; it was a matter of law and likely policy) and moreover that it was a bad/wrong/unfair/unhelpful judgment.

    The only alternative was to "strongly suggest" that she go to the ED for help, or to refer her to some other resources that may not be obligated to see her or take her insurance, and to "strongly suggest" that she go to them anyway. "Strong suggestions" are not appropriate for this situation.


    Law enforcement was called not to arrest her, punish her or scare her. The reason to call them is related to protective custody; to ensure that the patient makes it safely to an entity that is set up to evaluate her condition and her needs and provide or put her on the path to help.

    Congratulations to April Dembosky for taking this patient's and this nurse's unfortunate situation and making it sound like the nurse was an enemy who took punitive action. That is sure to help a lot of struggling women. What happened rather, is that the nurse didn't make the grave mistake of assuming that bad things can't and won't happen to good people.
  6. by   KelRN215
    As mandated reporters, when someone tells us that they are having violent thoughts towards their children, we are obligated to act. Imagine if the nurse had done nothing and the mother was then later violent with her baby.

    As a mandated reporter, I always err on the side of reporting. In 10+ years as a pediatric nurse, I have seen CPS do too little too many times and do too much once. The time they did too much they took custody of a baby who had an unexplained femur fracture, I believe. That baby was later diagnosed with osteogenesis imperfecta. I acknowledge that it is absolutely horrible that his parents briefly lost custody of him when they did nothing wrong but it would be worse to leave all children with unexplained fractures in their parents' custody (potentially dangerous situations) while OI is ruled out. OI is very rare and to potentially send a child home to an abusive situation while it is ruled out is worse than to temporarily remove a child from what might be an abusive situation.

    In this case, I don't think an OB is the appropriate provider to manage psychiatric symptoms (every article I've read on this case says that the mother expected her OB to prescribe her psychotropic medications) and since this woman's insurance is Medicaid and many mental health practitioners do not accept Medicaid, the fastest way to have her seen by a mental health clinician was likely to send her to the ER.
  7. by   broughden
    As a former police officer I will always side with policies mandating reporting for suspected child endangerment or potential harm. So yes, the nurse did the right thing.