Any experience with ER visits/non-vaxing? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 24 Old 01-03-2010, 10:16 PM - Thread Starter
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I've talked about this before on MDC, but just heard another story about CPS being called to the ER because the parents of a child there (fractured his wrist in basketball) did not vax their kid. It just freaks me out.

We're in New York State. It's supposed to be an automatic call to CPS here, but I think it winds up depending on hospital policy.

Honestly, I am very comfortable and well-informed in my decision to not vaccinate my children, despite having no support from family. The only thing that worries me is the ER. I have two active boys. One of these days, a trip there is going to happen. Would you lie to the ER staff about your kids' vax status? The last thing I want is a CPS report being opened on my family.

I guess I'm ok with lying, but afraid that hospital staff would find out, particularly if my kids' records were faxed from the ped's office.

Sorry for my paranoia. Sometimes it feels so hard to keep my kids safe from other people's poisons, both literally and figuratively.

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#2 of 24 Old 01-03-2010, 11:57 PM
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Where i live is pretty nonvax friendly. In fact our ped does not do vaxes and is very anti vax. we had to take ds to the after hours pediatric urgent care when he hit his head and sliced it open. they asked if he was up to date on vaccines and i said very confidently that he had never had any vaccines. That was the end of the story. No questions, rolled eyes, cps visit etc.
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#3 of 24 Old 01-04-2010, 12:10 AM
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It has never been an issue. When DD2 broke her clavicle last year, we were never asked about vaxes. Her other ER/hospital visits have been from lung issues as a baby, no one never batted an eye. Last summer I sliced my foot open on a can lid from a garage bag so not exactly the cleanest thing to get cut on! I refused a tetanus booster and the ER staff just said ok and moved on. I'm not above lying and saying my DC are up to date, but it hasn't been needed so far.

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#4 of 24 Old 01-04-2010, 12:27 AM
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we have had one ER visit and we were never asked about vax status.
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#5 of 24 Old 01-04-2010, 12:33 AM
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I've had 4 ER visits with 3 non-vaxed kids -- Maryland, Massachusetts, and New Jersey -- and no one questioned us on vaxes. I believe we may have said "they're fine" when they asked about vaxes on the two trips I was in charge of instead of dh -- I know dh was honest about the MA ER trip with dd1 with a massive splinter in her foot, and they insisted on giving her DTaP which dh didn't refuse ( -- as if the vax would actually DO anything to prevent at that point -- morons).

But anyway I really wouldn't freak. You can tell the truth ("they're not vaxed"), you can fudge the truth ("they're fine" -- which they are even if they're not vaxed but that statement will be interpreted a different way by them) or you can lie. If you lie they have no way of checking up on you because they don't have the right to ask to see your other doctors' records without your permission.

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#6 of 24 Old 01-04-2010, 01:27 AM
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I would look into the legalities of them actually reporting you to CPS for not vaccinating. Even in a state like New York where the laws about vaxing can be very screwy and big brothery- I doubt that an automatic CPS referral is standard protocol for a non-vaxing family. In some states there are laws that specifically state a family cannot be reported simply for vax status alone, especially when that choice is consciously after much research.

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#7 of 24 Old 01-04-2010, 01:35 AM
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Oddly, or perhaps not, we have had 3 ER visits for stitches since our twins were born.
  1. Twin cut his sister's hand. Hospital did not ask about her vax status (not our local hospital as we were out-of-town).
  2. Same twin cut his face open. Local hospital did not ask about vax status.
  3. Same twin cut his face (yes, again!). Local hospital. Nurse doing first check asked and I told her we did not vax. Doctor we saw minutes later in other room asked - twice during the stitches session (seemingly absent-minded about whether he had already asked). I told him simply both times that we did not vax. There was no further discussion. I had the feeling that he and the nurse were both "walking carefully" as neither agreed with not vaxing, but that was the extent of it.

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#8 of 24 Old 01-04-2010, 09:10 AM
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You could say "We do not vaccinate and their pediatrician is aware of this decision."

If you know your area is a problem you could lie.

"It should be a rule in all prophylactic work that no harm should ever be unnecessarily inflicted on a healthy person (Sir Graham Wilson, The Hazards of Immunization, 1967)."
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#9 of 24 Old 01-04-2010, 02:44 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the feedback, everyone.

I actually did not know that they couldn't request my sons' ped records without my permission. That kind of solves my problem, doesn't it? What they don't know won't hurt them, and will help my kids.

Emmaline, that's a good point... but I don't know enough about individual hospitals around here. It's not the sort of thing I could call up and ask. (Or maybe I can? Hm.) I think I'll be playing it safe and doing some lying if push comes to shove.

I also love the "they're fine" comment. Works for me.

Suz, mommy to 2 chess-playing, lightsaber-wielding boys

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#10 of 24 Old 01-04-2010, 03:47 PM
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I've accompanied my youngest to the ER in two different hospitals in Maryland. The doctor in one made a huge deal about us not vaxing, reported us to the hospital social worker (who did nothing but observe), and wanted to do a bunch of different unecessary, intrusive tests because he was convinced that my son MUST be sick with a VPD (he had a febrile seizure from a fever). It really sucked, and I won't give that hospital any more of our business. Not vaxing wasn't an issue at all in the other hospital, though I should add that we were there for a physical injury and not illness. Our treatment there was much more respectful in so,so many ways.

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#11 of 24 Old 01-04-2010, 03:54 PM
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So weird that you mention it now. I took DS to the ER yesterday cause the little rascal managed to open the fridge and pull out a huge Pyrex full of lasagna and it fell on his toe, ouch. It was super blue, he cried miserably and refused to nurse. So I got scared and wanted it checked out...
At the ER the lady asks questions and then it comes, "Are his immunizations up to date?". Without even thinking I said yes. According to us, he is up to date. He also had an injury that isn't related to any disease. He didn't have an open wound that might catch tetanus.
I am in WY and very scared that they might call CPS on me. It is very uncommon to not vaccinate here, so I don't wanna deal with unnecessary trouble brought on by some crazy nurse or doc.
I think though that if he ever shows symptoms of a VPD I would mention he didn't get the vax, cause I would want him to be tested for e.g. whooping cough. It really depends why you take them in I guess. And, even if he were vaccinated and I suspected e.g. WP or measles, I would want him to be tested for that as no vaccine gives you 100% immunity.
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#12 of 24 Old 01-04-2010, 07:20 PM
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I have not had pleasant experiences with our ER (in fairly rural PA) in regards to the kids non-vax status. The triage person asked, I told the truth and got the hairy eyeball which I ignored. The doctor brought it up and I still think her reaction was inappropriate but if we have to go to the ER again I will probably tell the truth again (I can't really imagine not, if they find out I'm lying wouldn't that be more suspicion for building a CPS case? I don't know). I also feel stronger after having that ridiculous discussion with that doctor and feel more prepared to call them out on the BS next time! They didn't call a social worker or CPS on me, they just hassled me and tried fear-mongering me into vaxing (didn't work!)
My best friend works in social services so I feel pretty safe knowing that she would personally help me if CPS would be called but she assures me that even if they did open a case they would look at my healthy, happy children and know that it wasn't worth their time.
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#13 of 24 Old 01-04-2010, 07:26 PM
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Here's how it's gone on both ER visits:

Nurse: Is he up to date on his immunizations?

Me: No.

Nurse: I'll make sure the doctor knows you're waiting.

End of story.
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#14 of 24 Old 01-05-2010, 01:21 PM
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I've only ever had one ER visit with my boys. Surprisingly! We were never asked about vaccinations. But we are also in a province that doesn't even have vaccine mandates for school.

Wife to DH, Mom to my Intact Boys DS1: Born 02 Pain Med Free Hospital Birth, BF'ed for 9 Months, Partially Vax'd DS2: Born 06 via UC, BF'ed 3 years 10 months, and UnVax'd
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#15 of 24 Old 01-05-2010, 10:50 PM
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We've had 3 ER visits in the past 11 years. I've been asked each time. Once, they asked, and made nothing of it. Didn't care at all. Second time, I got a bit of flack, but a family friend was on call, and stood up for me, and that ended it. No more discussion. Third time, I was asked, and the Dr. on call (we were there for stitches) made a huge deal about the possible risk of tetanus, how we should get the T shot, etc. I just said, ok, whatever. But didn't get the shot, and let him ramble on about how I needed to watch for signs of infection and tetanus ad nauseum. The nurses were great, didn't make a fuss about it, they really didn't care at all. Seems like the Dr. would know that a clean wound that bleeds profusely isn't a risk for tetanus, but oh well. He wasn't mean about it, just really persistent.

I have a friend who has had multiple ER visits (preemies with RSV, wounds, etc.) who just says something to the effect of "our dr. has taken care of all that with us". That way, she feels she isn't lying, but isn't opening the door to the hairy eyeball and harassment.
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#16 of 24 Old 01-06-2010, 06:40 AM
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We've been twice for my oldest and one of the times they didnt ask at all and the other time they just said "up to date?" I said "yep." Up to date for me is zero so I technically wasnt lying.

I'm more worried because my youngest (4) has never been to a dr in her life and I think they would take more issue with that even though she's never needed one.....


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#17 of 24 Old 01-08-2010, 01:53 AM
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My daughter was recently hospitalized in the PICU so we had all kinds of staff members asking her vaccine status. I told them all that she isn't vaccinated. They all said "ok." CPS is currently investigating me too (not because of not vaccinating, but from false accusations from in-laws) and CPS seems to be ok with not vaccinating as well. They just ask a little bit about my reasoning, which I explain and they seem to be ok with it.

Traditional & nutrient-dense foods/Weston A. Price Foundation advocate, Reiki II practitioner, EFT practitioner, past life & life between lives Hypnotherapist practitioner. Home birth with DD 2007 = never vaccinated, breastfed 3 years

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#18 of 24 Old 01-13-2010, 08:53 AM
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We actually just had an ER visit this morning for my nephew. He fell and hit the bridge of his nose on a plastic bin.

Triage nurse: Who is his pediatrician?
Sister: He doesn't have one.
TN: Okay... So how does he get his shots?
Sister: We don't do vaccinations.
TN: So he's never been to a doctor ever???
Sister: Well he's had check-ups before, with our old doctor.
TN: Oh, okay, so out of town.... So explain this no vaccination thing to me.
Sister: Personal reasons...
TN: Well he's going to have to have a tetanus shot.
Sister: It was a plastic hamper.
TN: It doesn't matter, he's going to have to get one of his shots. He'll get something called lockjaw and he'll die.
Me: How will that help, since it takes at least 2 weeks for the tetanus vaccine to trigger an immune response?
TN: Well it doesn't matter, the bacteria may not have gotten into the blood stream yet...
Me: Well trust me, our entire family has researched the hell out of this topic, we are not opposed to vaccination out of blind fear and certainly not out of neglect.
TN: Oh, well great then... Its really up to you.
Sister and me thinking -um, duh-

When DS had a very similar injury a few months back, it went more like this:

Nurse: Is he up to date on his immunizations?
Me: We don't vaccinate.
N: He doesn't have any of his shots?
Me: He has some, but we no longer do them after we did our research and we believe the benefits of vaccinating do not outweigh the risks, especially considering Bram's "condition".
N: -moved on to next question-

Later, the nurse had a chuckle because she came at DS very carefully with an otoscope and was like "don't worry, its not a shot, its not a shot!" (I'm guessing they have to say this to most kids...) DS looked at her like "WTF" and I said "he has no idea what that is". The nurse was like "oh yeah!" and thought that was just so hilarious. Tetanus nor the tetanus vaccine were ever brought up at all.

This was in Louisiana, by the way, in the same hospital. I wonder why it was never even brought up with DS but my nephew NEEDED one or he'd DIE.

Carly [29] + DH [27] + DS [9]

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#19 of 24 Old 01-14-2010, 04:28 AM
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Ive taken my now 3 yr old to the ER a few times. When she was little and I was a new parent of an unvaccinated child I took her. But I really cant recall if they asked (that was Howard County General).

Then last Feb she got what could only be described as a Rotavirus-like illness. I tried desperately to keep fluids in her, but it wasnt possible with the amount of vomiting and diarrhea. So, off to GBMC we went. They asked in check-in, and I said no, shes had none. The nurse smiled a little while he was going on about his 4 kids and I noticed an Autism Awareness bracelet on his hand. Thought I might be in good company. Then we got to see the doctor, who was probably 9 months pregnant. She asked, we said no, she disappeared and a different doctor came in for the rest of the time. We said it was religious and that was that.

My PEDI however, DID threaten to call social services for child endangerment, to which I responded "I have a lawyer and I know my rights, dont you dare threaten me." She told me I HAD to sign a release form of some sort and I bluntly asked if she planned to hold my hand to the paper and make me. "No? Then my attorney will fax it to you if he deems it important." Then she kicked me out of the practice. haha, like I was coming back after that behavior! BTW, she was hysterically crying and screaming the ENTIRE 15 minute appt. If she thinks vaccines are so scientifically proven, that behavior certainly wont make me trust her clearly "unbiased opinion."

Now we have a new doc, that we've seen once since 6 weeks. He's a DAN doctor. He agrees some of the vaxs are dangerous, but still wanted me to do DTaP Polio and HIb. I said, "we'll see," and have only gone back once to see his partner, who clearly hated me.
"What will you do when she has to go to school?" "religious exemption" "oh, so its for religious reasons?" "uh, sure. I mean, when school starts it will be." He couldnt get me out fast enough. I know there is no inquiry permitted into religious affiliation in Maryland. So, why pretend to be a scientologist? Then I dropped him this little tidbit. "My husbands father is a doctor" "a pedi?" "No, a radiologist, well, now hes the director of a hospital." SO LEAVE US ALONE!!!! I only came for the ear infection.

medical arrogance... hard to compete with, but I'm up for the challenge. Anything for those sweet rosy cheeks sleeping in the next room

Lauren , DH , DD 02/2007 and expecting #2 (12/7/10)! We
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#20 of 24 Old 01-15-2010, 02:02 PM
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Just had my first er visit on Tuesday for 20 month old completely unvaxed DS. He fell out of a shopping cart on his head!

They asked if he was "up to date". I assume this is just a routine question that they ask all parents of kids in the ER. I said yes as hitting his head has absolutely nothing to do with VPD's.

Had he been there for something that I thought may be VPD related. I would have been honest and said we don't for religious reasons.

If the people let government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny." Thomas Jefferson.

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#21 of 24 Old 01-15-2010, 03:04 PM
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The reason doctors turn parents who do not vaccinate over to CPS is because not vaccinating, IN THEIR MIND, equals medical neglect.

The odd thing is that most social workers, at least in my neck of the woods, know that many conscientious parents are not vaccinating now due to legitimate concerns about safety and health.

So it is a bureaucratic dance of sorts that is going on here, with parents and their children stuck in the middle.
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#22 of 24 Old 01-15-2010, 04:24 PM
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My son's been in the ER 5 times; they've never asked for vax status.
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#23 of 24 Old 01-18-2010, 05:10 PM
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I was not asked during our last trip for stitches but was before and I say yes. In my mind I think my kids have had the vaxes I think are important. It happens to be none at this time but I don't say that. I feel like it is not a big deal because I just want my kids taken care of. If I was asked are they up to date I would say yes again because in my eyes they have what number I think is up to date. The number is zero but I don't share that. i just feel stressed out enough in those situations and I don't want to talk about anything but the immediate problem.
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#24 of 24 Old 01-18-2010, 08:59 PM
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I have been to the ER (2 different ones) with my two kids. My dd was vaxed on schedule until 18 months; my ds is completely unvaxed. Of the 4 visits we've had, the only ER trip that vax status came up was after my dd busted open her knee running up outdoor concrete stairs at her school and needed 10 stitches . I have never lied about their vax status, and since my daughter wasn't and isn't "UTD" on tetanus, we were mildly pressed about getting her a shot at that visit. I respectfully declined, to which the surpised dr. stated, " You know there is no treatment for tetanus?". I replied "Right." somewhat sarcastically (dr. didn't pick up on it); since she wasn't trying to fearmonger or press me to get her a tetanus vax, I didn't press the issues that there *is* a treatment for it.

I wan't at all worried that CPS would have been called on me for this as we do have a supportive ped who would have stood up for us (although couldn't whip out a refusal to vaccinate form at my daughter's follow up appt as it was her first at this ped's office - not the "bad mommy" form, just a form simply stating I was not vaccinating my child because of personal beliefs/religious objections).

I'm sorry that anyone has to worry about being "reported" to CPS - as if when we visit the ER we don't have enough on our plates to worry about!

Becky, mom to two - DD ('00) and DS ('08)
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