Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital is now home to the Retcam3, new technology that offers the next generation of ophthalmic visualization and photo documentation to document child abuse in the form of Shaken Baby Syndrome and other unrelated eye disorders.
When Every Kid a King Foundation’s Dana Bernhard said she wanted OLOL to use the $75,000 they were donating OLOL Children's Hospital for “a game changer,” the staff manning OLOL Children’s Hospital’s pediatric emergency room said the state-of-the-art RetCam3 would fit that perameter.
This piece of equipment takes photos of the retina in suspected cases of “shaken baby syndrome” or other head injuries caused by abuse. According to a report in the July 26, 2010, issue of Pediatrics, journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, the “most common ocular manifestation of abuse is retinal hemorrhage … Retinal hemorrhages have been recognized as a key indicator of abusive head injury for more than 30 years, particularly in association with severe repetitive acceleration-deceleration forces with or without blunt head impact, in children younger than 5 years.”
The photos from the RetCam3 provide definitive proof that can stand up in court. “We’re one of only a dozen hospitals in the region with a RetCam,” John Paul Funes, OLOL Foundation Director, told guests. “We got it in mid-September; we’ve already used it five times and determined three cases of child abuse.”
“It’s an amazing piece of equipment,” said OLOL Children’s Hospital pediatric intensivist Dr. Kelechi Iheagwara, “It’s unbelievable that we actually have it.”
As she explained, up until now, when a physician suspected child abuse, in particular shaken baby syndrome, they had to rely on verbal descriptions and drawings to explain to a jury the damage done to a child. “You know that saying, ‘A picture’s worth a thousand words?’ Well, now for the first time, we can present a picture in court as evidence to the damage,” she said. “We can prove retinal hemorrhage with this machine because it allows us to see the damage. It’s hard-core evidence no one can argue with, and it makes everybody’s job (doctors, lawyers, judges, jurors) easier. It’s cutting-edge technology right here in Baton Rouge.”
Pictured above are Every Kid a King Foundation Board of Directors Chair Dana Bernhard and directors Donna Pixley and Debbie Blume with the new RetCam technology at Our Lady of the Lake Children's Hospital.