Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

  • Munchausen syndrome by proxy is also called MSBP. This is when a child is made to look very sick or have a very bad disease. The caretaker intentionally makes up symptoms of illness and causes harm to the child under her care. The condition is a form of child abuse where very young children are the common victims. The child is often brought to a hospital for symptoms that are unusual for the disease. The symptoms usually improve in the hospital but come back when at home with the caretaker.

  • The diagnosis of this condition may include documentation, separation from the caretaker, and video monitoring. Treatment for the abused child may include medicines for his symptoms and antibiotics if there are open wounds. The child may be given a special diet to help gain back lost weight. Counseling may also given to help the child cope with the physical and mental abuse. The child's health, quality of life, and ability to function may improve if the abuse is stopped. Early diagnosis and treatment may prevent further harm to the child.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan the child's care. To help with this plan, you must learn about the child's health condition and how it may be treated. You can then discuss treatment options with the child's caregivers. Work with them to decide what care may be used to treat the child.

RISKS:

Treatment of the condition may have some unpleasant effects. Medicines may cause nausea (upset stomach), vomiting (throwing up), or skin rashes. If the abuse is not stopped, the child may continue to have other health and mental problems. If the child and the caretaker are left untreated, the child may grow up remembering what happened to him. He may be at risk of doing the same to his children. The caretaker may also do the same to other children. Repeated acts of abuse may lead to very bad injuries or death. Ask caregivers if you or the child are worried or have questions about his condition, treatment, and care.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent:

You have the right to understand the child's health condition in words that you know. You should be told what tests, treatments, or procedures may be done to treat the child's condition. The child's caregiver should also tell you about the risks and benefits of each treatment. You may be asked to sign a consent form that gives the child's caregivers permission to do certain tests, treatments, or procedures. If you are unable to give your consent, someone who has permission can sign this form for you. A consent form is a legal piece of paper that tells exactly what will be done to the child. Before giving your consent, make sure all your questions have been answered so that you understand what may happen to the child.

Activity:

At first, the child may need to rest in bed and get plenty of sleep. If he has trouble breathing or chest pain, call his caregivers right away.

IV:

An IV is a tube placed in the child's vein for giving medicine or liquids.

Medicines:

The child may need any of the following:

  • Antibiotics: Antibiotics may be given to help the child fight an infection caused by a germ called bacteria.

  • Pain medicine: Caregivers may give medicine to help the child's pain go away. Tell a caregiver if the child's pain does not go away or comes back after taking this medicine. Tell a caregiver if you know the child is allergic to pain medicine. Pain medicine can have some side effects. Tell a caregiver if the child has trouble breathing, is very sleepy, or has an upset stomach.

Tests:

The child may have blood and urine tests, computed tomography (CT) scan, and x-rays taken. Ask the child's caregiver about the tests that the child may need. The following may also be done:

  • Documentation: This notes how the child reacts when he is with his caretaker. The actions and behavior of the caretaker towards the child may also be noted.

  • Video monitoring: Video is used to record how the caretaker behaves when left alone with the sick child. It can help the child's caregivers get strong evidence of abuse.

Treatment options:

  • Counseling: Caregivers may talk to the child, or other family members, friends, or the caretaker about physical abuse. Caregivers may explain the problems that can occur if child abuse is not noticed or stopped.

  • Separation: The child may need to be taken away from his caretaker for a while. This may help the child get well without any treatment.

Vital signs:

This includes taking the child's temperature, blood pressure, pulse (counting his heartbeat), and respirations (counting his breaths). Caregivers may listen to the child's heart and lungs using a special instrument. The child's vital signs are taken so caregivers can see how he is doing.

© 2014 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

Learn more about Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy (Inpatient Care)

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