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Another Day, Another Failure to Report Child Abuse

Jason Reese

In early 2013, 2-year-old Amabel Calderon was taken to the emergency room at IU Health Methodist Hospital two times in four days. She was diagnosed both times with a partially dislocated elbow, explained by family members as a result of Amabel pulling away from them as they were putting her to bed. During the second trip to the ER, the young girl also had an injury on her back and a burn on her wrist. Though many medical staff members are required to immediately report suspected incidents of child abuse, no one at IU Health Methodist contacted the Department of Child Services (DCS).

Twenty-one months later, Amabel Calderon was dead from massive head trauma caused by her mother’s boyfriend repeatedly slamming her head into the wall. Freddie Bailey is accused of terrifying abuse involving Amabel, as well as her two siblings.

Marion County’s Judge Marilyn Moores became aware of the hospital visits and the failure to report the injuries as she reviewed documents surrounding the case. She eventually wrote an order requiring the Indiana Department of Child Services to release Amabel’s medical records and expressed concern at the failure of the hospital to report suspected child abuse, a failure Judge Moores believes may have cost the child her life.

Many Doctors Hesitant to Report Suspected Abuse

A 2010 study suggested nearly 25% of doctors do not report suspected child abuse. Due to the unique access doctors and other medical staff have to injured children, they have many points at which they can protect children in ways others may not be able. The study suggested several possibilities to explain the difference between doctors’ suspicions of abuse and their willingness to reach out to authorities to report the incidents.

  • Concerns about getting involved in a legal process, often because of a fear of repercussions. There have been instances where families have alleged medical malpractice against doctors who reported suspected abuse when not had actually occurred. States, including Indiana, have largely dismissed these cases due to their possible impact on people’s willingness to report abuse.
  • Lack of certainty about whether or not abuse has occurred. Though doctors may be uncertain, they still must report suspected abuse. The possible negative consequences for the families and themselves may weigh heavily on the minds of doctors who are calculating danger to the child comparatively.
  • Fear the state will remove the child or children from the parents’ custody. Most people still believe the best place for many children is with their parents. It makes the fear of being wrong seem terrible and increases doctors’ desires to help.
  • A belief that the Child of Protective Services (CPS) will not resolve the issue or protect this challenge.

If you suspect your child or other loved one has been a victim of child abuse or if a child in your life has suffered due to the failure of mandated reporters, Wagner Reese may be able to help you start to put your life back on the right track. If you believe that your injury and damages are a result of a hospital’s wrongful actions, please contact our office and ask to speak with an attorney about your potential case. Wagner Reese never charges a consultation fee, and the only way we collect payment for our services is if we win your case. You can reach us direct by dialing (888) 204-8440, or you can write to us by using our contact form.


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