I have noticed over the years that the presence of CPS can have an amazingly negative affect on the relationship with parents. Most parents form a cordial and friendly relationship with their family practice doctor and pediatrician. After years of having a friendly relationship with their child’s doctor, the assume the doctor will support their position when they find themselves in court defending a Children’s Protective Services petition. Unfortunately, this is not what actually happens in many cases.
Treating physicians are usually uncomfortable interacting with CPS. What’s worse, many physicians are nervous about the scrutiny that comes with CPS involvement in their practice. Some physicians will discharge patients when CPS or police officers come around. Some will immediately begin to engage in defensive medicine because they are worried about accusations coming their way.
Your Doctor is a Mandatory Reporter
Doctors are on the list of mandatory reporters or actual or suspected child abuse. As a result, even in cases where they don’t really have concerns the will file a report with CPS. This is often done to protect themselves rather than to protect a child. On the other hand, if a doctor did not make a report to CPS after seeing a child, but someone else does, the doctor could be in trouble. Michigan law makes it a criminal offense for a mandatory reporter not to make the report in certain cases. Generally, doctors, nurses, counselors and day care workers run scared and actually over-report. They do this for their own protection.
When a Michigan Children’s Protective Services investigation starts, it is common practice for the investigator to ask the parents to sign releases. They then use these releases to gather information about your child. That information often includes the medical and counseling records. When a doctor’s office receives the request for information, it is often a source of concern within the medical practice, especially when the child is sick or injured.
What do I do When my Doctor Turns Against me?
Parents are not usually informed about the communication that goes back and forth between CPS and the medical staff in your pediatrician’s office. When we obtain and read the CPS files, we often find that the comments of the office staff at the medically facility are stated in the record; and that they are both candid and negative. Parents usually know if there is a problem because of the subtle signs that the relationship has changed. One thing you can do to sort this out is to order a complete copy of your child’s medical records, including the external documents. HIPPA laws give parents the right to obtain these records and many parents are amazed at what is in them. Sometimes, it is really clear that you need to move on and find a more family friendly pediatrician. However, this decision should be made after consultation with an attorney if CPS is involved. In some cases, changing doctors in the middle of a CPS investigation can raise additional suspicions.
Cronkright Law attorneys have many years of experience helping parents with CPS matters and would be happy to assist you. We handle CPS matters throughout Michigan’s Southern Peninsula, including Grayling, Lapeer, Muskegon, Lansing, Jackson, Adrian, St Joseph, and Kalamazoo.