Judy Doran, the Maine school nurse leader and writer of Maine Points, provided today’s guest blog post, one that school nurses may find eerily familiar. What do you do when medical maladies just don’t add up and the red flags are flying high? Judy provides important resources that address medical child abuse and factitious disorders otherwise known as Munchausen by Proxy. Thank you Judy for covering this important topic. You are not an outlier by any means, I imagine most school nurses who read your post will recall a similar encounter(s).
Have you ever found yourself in your school health office with a parent explaining to you in dizzying detail a host of medical concerns, failed treatments, maybe surgeries, testing, current therapies, meds, restrictions, accommodations, poor attendance records, and wondered what in the world is going on here? You press for documentation, maybe a release of information. You don’t get far. Your gut says something feels off. What to do?
- Tune into Nobody Should Believe Me podcast hosted by Andrea Dunlop. Absolutely riveting, well done, and informative. Be sure to check out the extra episodes and interviews.
- Munchausen Support Resources for Families and Frontline Professionals Dealing with Munchausen by Proxy. Tons of info and resources including some specific content for educators. There are folks there who are actively creating training for educators and school nurses.
- Munchausen.com This is the website of Dr Marc Feldman an international expert on factitious disorders. (You will hear him on the podcast).
Big takeaways for me….. Medical child abuse is child abuse and it is a crime. This form of child abuse is not the super rare disorder that I thought it was. I’m pretty sure we’ve all seen it at some point. (It has occurred to me that I could be an outlier and we haven’t all seen this but my gut says we have. On some level of the spectrum, I think we’ve all seen it. For sure check out the educators resource page linked above and I think you’ll agree).
Once again this illustrates our unique, privileged position of school nurse; we are in a space where sometimes a lot of dots can get connected. We are in the communities and as long as kids go to school, we see them all. (And if they don’t come to school, we start asking why…….). We are in the position of identifying warning signs of this devastating, poorly understood form of child abuse. With the tools listed above, we now have some resources to help us navigate.
Thanks to Andrea Dunlop for the podcast and to all of the experts (Survivors, Authors, Clinicians, Educators, Law Enforcement) on the linked websites for working hard to educate us. And thanks to you all for taking a minute to read this and hopefully tuning in and logging on.