Doctors' mistake lands boy in CPS custody

May 20, 2010 4:02:56 AM PDT
When CPS takes away children, it's usually because the parents did something wrong. But this is a story about how CPS took a child because of a mistake doctors made.

Now, the mother and father have their little boy back, but they also have a warning for other parents.

These parents say a decision a doctor at Texas Children's Hospital made based on the results of a blood test caused them a week without their son. They're thankful, though, that it didn't cost them a whole lot more.

Lane Tyler is your typical seven-year-old. He doesn't want to slow down. So last month, when he complained of headaches and just wanted to sleep, his mother, Michelle Coleman, knew something was wrong.

"I got very concerned," Coleman said.

She took him to Texas Children's Hospital, but never expected she'd be blamed for her son's illness.

"I said, 'You know, this is insane; I didn't do this to my kid,'" Coleman said.

Lane's blood test came back negative for most drugs but positive for THC, or marijuana. The results shocked his parents.

"My husband and I looked at each other and said, 'You're crazy. We don't do that,' because I knew what it meant," Coleman said.

The next day, Children's Protective Services took temporary custody and placed Lane with his grandmother.

Meanwhile, Michelle and her husband were investigated and forced to submit to drug testing.

"We suffered, but he suffered more," Coleman said.

So they took him back to the hospital, and this time, they got back a different result.

"Everything was negative," she said.

Instead of marijuana, Coleman said doctors found a blood clot in his brain.

A doctor told her that had they waited...

"He could have died," Coleman said.

Neither the hospital nor CPS would comment on the case but Dr. Michelle Lyn with Texas Children's Hospital said, "Accuracy, we assume, is very, very good. Of course, there's no test that's 100 percent."

"We have to err on the side of the child," CPS spokeswoman Estella Olguin said. "Especially when the child is young and vulnerable."

But Coleman and her husband are still embarrassed about being falsely accused.

Now she hopes their story will educate other parents. She says sometimes mistakes can happen, even in the safest of places.

"Find out as much as you can, request as much as you can, and if he's not willing to do so, trust me, he has a boss," Coleman said. "And if his boss doesn't help you, then he has a boss."

Coleman said the hospital has apologized, although she says she hopes they'll take this entire ordeal into account when her son's medical bills are due.

CPS said Coleman and her husband can file paperwork requesting their names be removed from their system since both neglect and abuse were ruled out.


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