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Rare Disease Mimics Child Abuse and Tears Family Apart

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posted on Apr, 5 2012 @ 10:08 PM
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Story




William "Dave" O'Shell, distraught over charges of child abuse that were being leveled against him, snapped on June 30, 2008, killing his wife, Tiffany O'Shell, in their Henderson, Colo., home before taking his own life. Just a few weeks earlier, their green-eyed, 3-month-old daughter, Alyssa, had been placed in a foster home because x-rays revealed 11 broken bones and doctors assumed that she had been beaten. But they were wrong. On the same day as the murder-suicide, a doctor at Colorado Children's Hospital suspected something else and was later proved right: Alyssa had a rare genetic disorder that caused her bones to fracture -- one that authorities had confused for abuse. Alyssa died of spinal muscular atrophy on Oct. 28, 2008, but the tragedy has rippled through a family and an aggressive social services system that is meant to protect children.



This really makes me sick. The FIRST thing they think of is CHILD ABUSE, esp with a family of no abuse history whatsoever.
The sad thing is when he killed himself & his wife, the doctors FINALLY said hey, its a genetic disorder.
Social Services dropped the ball on this bigtime, they failed to investigate the parents and failed to talk to people that knew them.
My heart goes out to all three of them, a tragedy that could have been averted.




posted on Apr, 5 2012 @ 10:15 PM
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A tragic story indeed, but not one I can blame social services for. Anytime a baby shows multiple broken bones, that baby should be removed from the home until the cause can be found. The fact that it turned out to be a very *rare* medical condition, doesn't change the fact that the father, in the state of mental instability, killed 2 people.

Sometimes, it's the right combination of unimaginable circumstances...just terrible.

Des





edit on 5-4-2012 by Destinyone because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 5 2012 @ 10:16 PM
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Yeah it is sick how they always jump to child abuse

I remember when i wanted to volunteer at a local community center to help with mentally challenged kids
but because i was a guy (19 at the time) i got the strangest looks and questions its hard to explain in text but i've never felt so awkward for wanting to do good..
edit on 5-4-2012 by Bixxi3 because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 5 2012 @ 10:34 PM
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This story makes me shake with rage.

Life is so...freaking...unfair.

Real abuse goes on unpunished, while meanwhile some overzeous, overly-righteous ******es manage to destoy a decent family.

Stop the world, I want to get off.



posted on Apr, 5 2012 @ 11:16 PM
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reply to post by HomerinNC
 


While I understand where you are coming from can you tell me how many police officers know what Ketoacidosis is, what to look for and what causes it? People who are affected by it will give all of the indiciations of an intoxicated individual.

slurred speech
unable to multi task
loss of fine motor control
unable to process verbal directions
fruity / intoxicating odor coming from the mouth
resistive

If that person is behind the wheel of a vehicle the conclusion and basis of the stop is going to be possible DWI/DUI. Its going to take EMS / Medical personell to diagnose. The moment the individuals system is back in balance its like nothing ever happened.

Law Enforcement is not suppose to make a medical diagnosis because of liability. The moment they do and something goes wrong the first question the defense is going to ask is Officer do you possess the medical knowledge / certifications to make a medical diagnosis.

In a case like this medical should have spent a little bit more time. I agree with the decision to hotline it as that action is reasonable based on the overall situation (not to mention medical personell are mandatory reporters). The last child abuse case I worked was discombobulated to the extent we had to bring in a Forensic Pediatrician.

They can look at the broken bone and based off of the break and the level / amount of calcification can give a estimate of when the break / abuse occured. The article does not say anything about bruising which is kind of weird but maybe it was just left out. It doesnt describe the types of breaks either.

In the end though law enforcement is not medical. We rely on the medical determinations by the Doctors / medical staff and go from there. If medical is insistent its abuse then law enforcement in this case was acting in good faith that it was indeed child abuse.

From the sound of it it looks like there was a breakdown in communications between the various agencies involved.

A very tragic situation...
edit on 5-4-2012 by Xcathdra because: (no reason given)

edit on 5-4-2012 by Xcathdra because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 6 2012 @ 09:06 AM
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i knew what ketoacidosis is!


But then, I should, I'm diabetic.

More seriously though, removing the child was the only reasonable and valid decision in this case. Sure, the injuries turned out to be from a disease and not from actual abuse, but given how rare that disease is, do you honestly think it is going to be a health practitioners first diagnosis?

I don't know about the states, but in the UK, if a child is reported with recurring injuries of that nature, the child is removed to foster care for their own safety, and the parents prohibited from visits, until suspected abuse is eliminated.

It is neither nice, nor fair on the parents, but it is the only practical course of action. Do you really want children who actually are being abused, left with their abusers while checks and tests are made, just in case its a rare disease? That course of action could well end up with the child in a pine box.



posted on Apr, 6 2012 @ 10:10 AM
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reply to post by Xcathdra
 


Perhaps I'm being a bit too idealistic here, but it would seem that any medical condition which could mimic a condition which a citizen could be arrested for should be covered in officer training.

I can only think of two reasons this would not be done: (1) there are thousands upon thousands of medical conditions that could mimic intoxication or victimization so education isn't an option or (2) knowledge isn't as much of a concern as perception.

Anyone aware of just how many diagnoses mirror punishable crimes? For example, someone with an advanced ear infection would appear to be stumbling on the sidewalk, while in reality, their balance, controlled by the middle ear, has been retarded by the infection. I would assume this person would have a breathalyzer administered prior to arrest for public intoxication, then again, I would assume someone in a state of ketoacidosis would pass a breathalyzer with flying colors, no?

Please help me to understand this.



posted on Apr, 7 2012 @ 01:32 AM
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reply to post by BMorris
 


I think your child protective services have a bit more authority than ours. In my state Department of Family Services have no legal authority to seize a child on their own. It has to be done by law enforcement or a doctor nd we have to be specific as to why we are seizing the child. The seizure is good for 12 hours at which point its mandatory to ahve a court appearence (DFS) and the family. DFS has to make their argument as to why the child should be kept away from the parent / guardian / custodian and the epxlanation must be exact.

In my state a seized child is placed if at all possible with family members first. It is a last resort option to place a child in a facility or with foster parents. I take the time to explain to the parents why im doing what im doing. I make it clear im not accusing them of anything and that the measure is precautionary until medical can give more detailed information.

The system is not perfect though, since on one side we have parents who know the childs day to day routine and on the other total strangeres who have to make a decision based off of a 30 minute exam +/-. I explain its for the childs protection so medical can look deeper. Sometimes its enough sometimes its not. At the very least I try to reinforce thatI am not accusing them of child abuse.

The one major issue I have seen is the mandatory reporting laws. They are so overly broad that if you have a 5 year old present with a bruised / broken arm from playing on the jungle gym its still a mandatory hotline and follow up invesitgation. Since medical sees the cases before law enforcement, and because they have been wrong in the past and have been arrested / charged for not reporting, anything that presents that even hints of abuse its hotlined.

Better to be safe than sorry sure buts its still a huge hassle and frayed nerves. I ahve always made an effort to allow one of the parents the ability to stay at the hospital and visit with the child so long as there is medical staff present at all times while in the room.

Trying to get it all sorted out is tough when the person you are trying to protect cannot even talk... Its a bad comparison but its like dealing with a sick famil pet. You know something is wrong but since the animal cant tell you its a shot in the dark and a lot of tests to figure it out.

I honestly would not mind seeing a change in the laws that would require a hospital to screen for genetic / disease / disorder / etc for a child abuse case. That possibly would go a lot further to rule out abuse or to confirm it a lot quicker than normal.



posted on Apr, 7 2012 @ 01:48 AM
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Originally posted by chasingbrahman
Perhaps I'm being a bit too idealistic here, but it would seem that any medical condition which could mimic a condition which a citizen could be arrested for should be covered in officer training.

Respectfully you are.. Contrary to popular belief the police academy trains officers just enough to get themselves into trouble once out of the academy. That aside the only medical training, in general, is first responder certification. In my state thats 40 hours (firedepartment receive 60 hours). There is not point in teaching law enforcement about medical conditions because we are prohibited from making a determination or diagnosis.

Even when it coes to DWI / DUI our entire case is based off of our observations of the individual and 3 standardized tests. The Ketoacidosis presents the same as alcohol intoxication so is the person we are dealing with drunk or having a reaction? If the breath test comes back at trip zeros (.000) then ther eis something else present. Since we cant make a medical determination we call EMS and go from there.

As far as being trained in what to arrest for we are. However suffering from the medical condition of kedoacidosis is not an arrestable offense since its a medical condition and not criminal. What happens if the case turns out to be medical is a report goes to the department of revenu (motor vehices / licensing in my state) and her license is reviewed and can possibly be restricted until action is taken to correct the medical condition.



Originally posted by chasingbrahman
I can only think of two reasons this would not be done: (1) there are thousands upon thousands of medical conditions that could mimic intoxication or victimization so education isn't an option or (2) knowledge isn't as much of a concern as perception.

It comes back to legal liabilities. If I make an arrest and the person tells me they are sick and want to go to the hospital I have 2 choices -
* - Comply and take them to the hospital for medical clearence then to the jail
* - Ignore the request and take my chances.

Ignoring the request is a gamble. As I stated the first question defense will ask is officer so an so are you certified or trained in emergency medicine, or hold any certifications in the medical arena that legally allows you to make a medical diagnosis.

answer - No (even officers who are also EMS are cautioned against switching hats mid scene - going from officer to medic is a no no).

Lawyer - If you are not certified to make a diagnosis then why did you deny my clients request to go to the hospital.

answer - cricket sounds in the court...

Even the HGZ (gayze nystagmus test for dwi) can be missleading if officers arent paying attention. Each eye has 3 clues to look for. If all 3 clues are present in both eyes there is an 80%-90% probability the individual is over .08% bac.

We are supposed to ask the person we are administering the test to if they have any medical issues or any natural nystagmus in there eyes. most officers I ahve been with skip over that question because of the above.


Originally posted by chasingbrahman
Anyone aware of just how many diagnoses mirror punishable crimes? For example, someone with an advanced ear infection would appear to be stumbling on the sidewalk, while in reality, their balance, controlled by the middle ear, has been retarded by the infection. I would assume this person would have a breathalyzer administered prior to arrest for public intoxication, then again, I would assume someone in a state of ketoacidosis would pass a breathalyzer with flying colors, no?

Depends on the state but for the most part public intoxication is a status offense and most laws have been removed / revoked as being unconstitutional (municpal / county state court rulings). Unless an individual is driving a motor vehicle and invovled in an accident and is unconscious, we cannot force a bllod breathor urine test.

If they are unconcious and was the driver we can get a blood sample. Absent that people can refuse to portable breath tests they administer at road side because they are not admissible in court because they are not a clibrated instrument. The big machines (datamasters / breathlyzer 6000 or whatever its called) are callibrated so refusal to submit to one of those as a result of possible dwi is an aoutomatic DWI charge.

Ketoacidosis will not present on a breath test. The smell will be there but since no alcohol is involved the person is not legally intoxicated off alcohol.

In my state the only group we can slightly force the issue is for a minor in possession of alcohol by consumption. The minor has to be "visibly intoxicated". Im waiting for the courts to require that term to be defined.



Originally posted by chasingbrahman
Please help me to understand this.

When in doubt, we contact EMS and go from there. Even if the person is involved in a fatality accident and he / she survived, we cannot deny them medical attention. Rule of thumb if it something medically related its not within the officers authority to make medical determinations.

Even doctors who have done there job for ages still make a diagnosis based on their experience and then run tests to back and and verify their conclusion before moving forward. Just like officers who know how to work a DWI forwards and backwards in their sleep still require the offical breath test to confirm that the person is in fact intoxicated. Simply stating it is not enough without the result.

Hope this helps.. If you have more questions or what not in a specific area just ask.. We will trying to make it relevnat to the topic and if others in the medical / fire / law enforcement arena are following please chime in.
edit on 7-4-2012 by Xcathdra because: (no reason given)

edit on 7-4-2012 by Xcathdra because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 11 2012 @ 08:52 AM
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reply to post by Xcathdra
 


Thank you Xcathdra - this explanation was very helpful in understanding how criminal, medical and legal liabilities can lock horns and tie some hands together.

It must be very challenging for former EMS, now LEO's, to remove that old hat and not begin administering CPR or take other life-saving measures and wait for the professionals employed in an EMS capacity to arrive. I can't imagine how powerless one might feel.

Again, thanks - your posts are always informative and the thought put into them is appreciated.




posted on Apr, 11 2012 @ 09:05 AM
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Wow, that is just a horrible set of circumstances, I don't even know how to respond to it. Sad thing to have happened to a family.



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