Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Guest Post: The Blame Game and DSS

Guest post by Susan Falkoff. Susan will be helping me out with occasional posts over the next few weeks for reasons that will be more obvious in a few days (I hope!). -- sco

While Steve was struck by dueling columnists commenting this week on Sen. Scott Brown's use of profanity, my attention was caught by diametrically opposed columns on the subject of the latest DSS tragedy. Commissioner Harry Spence was excoriated by Eileen McNamara on Sunday and exonerated by Adrian Walker on Monday for the death of 4-year-old Rebecca Riley due to an apparent overdose of prescription medication.

Seems to me that Walker got it just about right. DSS gets a report of a child who is possibly overmedicated. A social worker investigates, and is reassured by the doctor that the medication prescribed is appropriate. It would be absurd for DSS to assume the doctor was wrong. The parents administer the medication inappropriately. What I can’t tell from the press reports is how much of the problem was medication that was poorly prescribed by a licensed medical professional, or medication that was poorly administered by a very troubled parent. In either case, how on earth could Harry Spence be responsible for the girl's death?