Doctors Mistake Toddler's Spider Bite for Cigarette Burn; More

Wayne J. Guglielmo, MA 

Disclosures

October 24, 2018

In This Article

Doctors Mistake Spider Bite for Cigarette Burn; Child Protective Services Rush In

Honest mistake or a rush to judgment? That's the question underlying the strange case of a 2-year-old North Carolina boy whose ER doctors mistook his spider bite for a cigarette burn, as a story posted on the website of the TV station WFMYNews2, in Greensboro, reports.[1]

Recently, Lane Davis, of Siler City, was playing in his backyard and found a spider that had fallen from one of the family's hanging wind chimes. Later that evening, his parents, Samantha Jones and Jimmy Davis, noticed a spot on their son's leg. They asked him what had happened, and he explained that a bug he was playing with had bitten him.

By this point, the spot on Lane's leg looked serious enough that his parents decided to take him to nearby UNC Health Care. To the couple's surprise, though, the ER doctors examining their son's leg suspected that his wound had come from a cigarette burn and not a spider bite.

Suspicious that Lane might have been abused by his parents, the medical staff promptly separated the parents, questioned each about the wound, and, finally, called the Department of Social Services, which dispatched a case worker to the family's house within hours after the couple returned home. There, the caseworker spoke with them for about 45 minutes before setting down "strict instructions" that Lane should be placed—temporarily at least—in the care of other people.

By the following morning, the child's wound looked even worse than it had the day before. Once again, his parents elected to take him to the hospital, only this time to a different hospital and ER.

"As soon as the doctor walked in, she told us what it was," Jimmy Davis recalled. The untreated bite, as it turned out, had resulted in a series of dangerous infections, including cellulitis, impetigo, and a staph infection. Further delay in treatment, doctors at the second hospital informed the parents, might well have resulted in even more serious complications.

The episode left the family feeling victimized, but they have no plans to file a malpractice suit against the first hospital or its doctors. Instead, as they told their local TV station, they want to get the word out that parents facing a similar situation should trust their instincts and get a second opinion whenever necessary.

As for the Department of Social Services, it reportedly took more than a week following the interview of the parents to bring the alleged child-abuse matter to a close. "I had to go down there and threaten them about getting a lawyer," explained Jimmy Davis.

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