collective guilt

Disturbed this week by so many things.

First disturbing consideration is the recent dropped charges of Tammy Marquardt. 13 years in prison, convicted of killing her 2 year old, apprehended 2 other children taken and put into adoption and she seems so calm. I don’t know how she found the strength to deal with such a horrifying event.

And I think about the numerous times in the past years of a picu where a child would arrive, limp, unresponsive and suspicion would be cast upon the parent or care giver. I remember many cases where the neurologist would claim the type of brain injury could only, ever be caused by shaking. Many times that absolute conviction of correctness created a unease in me, however it was not anything that was ever discussed, or questioned. At that time this was the understanding of infant and toddler head injuries of unknown origin. I remember when I first read an article that cast doubt on this sacred cow – that subdural hematoma could occur spontaneously, that retinal hemorrhages could have alternative etiology besides a shaking. I wondered what had happened to so many of those parents who were tagged as the offender of a horrible crime, where perhaps none had been committed.

Now we see this woman and perhaps another 19 parents/caregivers painted in a manner which was not them, tainted and condemned, forever pained by not only the death of their child but the betrayal of not only the health care system but also the justice system.

I wonder how often we have done this. This was not done by Smith alone. Healthcare, justice and society has allowed this horror. Before the child ever arrived on his autopsy table there was assumed guilt – healthcare workers are afterall simply human.

But still, is this release and dropping of charges enough for this massive miscarriage? Our societal guilt should drive us to enact change, for apparently, it could very well have been any of us.


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