Daycare Failed to Call or Report an Incident and Child Had Broken Arm

Updated on January 25, 2012
B.H. asks from Herndon, VA
29 answers

Hi, my 13 month old had her first week in a highly recommended daycare. Her teacher is very young, but seemed nice. My mom picks her up from daycare at 4, so she isn't there too late. She noticed on Thursday she wasn't using her arm. Everything else about her was fine; playing, eating, walking, laughing. I took her to a doctor Thursday evening. She was diagnosed with "nurse maid elbow" and the dr popped her elbow back in place. I was upset and called and they admitted there was an incident where a bigger boy fell on her. Saturday morning, I notice swelling, take her back to the walk in clinic and request an X-ray...They find a broken arm!!! I am so upset. I feel like if there was an incident that resulted in a broken arm, I should have been called!! What would you do? I feel there has been neglect!

edit: My mom noticed the second she brought her home and she started playing. My daughter also had a dislocated elbow, so the dr thought that was the extent of the problem. I am changing providers and she also had a bloody lip from the incident, so yes I feel I definitely should have been notified. I feel they neglected to tell me my child was injured.

Edit: we noticed the injury the second we saw her, the dr was not adequate in the diagnosis.

What can I do next?

  • Add your own comment
  • Ask your own question
  • Join the Mamapedia community
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

More Answers


answers from San Francisco on

She seemed fine, so how could they possibly know her arm was broken? Even the doctor missed it!
I understand that you were upset but a daycare isn't going to consider every boo boo an "incident" or else they would be on the phone all day.
Clearly your daughter has a very high tolerance for pain, and even if the daycare had called you what difference would it have made? Your daughter was hurt and it took a few days to realize how badly. Exact same outcome either way.

14 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

First of all the doctor did not even realize it was broken. Secondly, it daycare providers called every parent every time someone fell on someone
else, or tripped and knocked into another kid, they would be on the phone all day. Obviously it was not a big deal
and obviously your daughter seemed OK. You feel there has been neglect?
I do not think so. How was your daycare provider to know she had a
broken arm when doc did not even know. I think you are upset because you are probably feeling quilty about her being in daycare. Do not blame this
poor daycare provider. This could have happened if she was playing with
someone in your home. If someone fell on her or tripped into her, and she
seemed fine what would you have done. Rush her to the ER. I think not.
Things happen, that is life.

13 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Well, neither you not the physician noticed the fracture either. You did not notice the swelling until Saturday and you report your child was otherwise acting normally. So I have trouble blaming the daycare. I have friends (he is an orthopedic surgeon, she is a veterinarian, they are both involved intelligent parents). Their little girl jumped off an 8 inch ledge and cried for a minute. Then she was fine. A day later she said the leg was sore, then fine, then sore the next day. Yup - it was fractured (saw the pediatrician, had an x-ray the next day) so the child walked on the fracture for 5 days and no one was negligent.

How could they have been hiding a broken arm from you as Acnvacwife suspects? She was with you from Thursday until Saturday and you didn't notice it?

12 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

so sorry this happened, really, i am! kids fall ALL THE TIME, it's so hard to tell when a kid is injured vs just the typical fall... i know this first hand. my 2yo daughter broke her arm wednesday on my watch. she tumbled, nothing out of the ordinary, fussed a bit, and carried on. realized after a couple hours she wasn't really using the arm - took her to ER, she was so happy and bouncy there that i almost took her back home, as i was getting up to leave, thinking there was NO WAY anything could really be wrong, they called her name, so i went ahead and had her checked out... sure enough, it's broken! i would be upset that my child was hurt, but i bet every kid in that daycare falls down at least twice a day, it's got to be hard to report every incident to every parent... the bloody lip didn't tip your mom off the moment she picked your little girl up? and again, the physician that first saw your little girl didn't even catch the fracture, can you be 100% positive she didn't fall again? you've already pulled her out, hopefully it's a place that's a better fit for you, but kids get injured, accidents happen - if your little girl was acting normal, it's hard to say they were negligent... hope she is better very soon!

8 moms found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

I just read on another website about fracture/dislocations of the elbow. They said that it usually happens when the person is falling and they put their hand out. They land on their hand and it sends force up into the elbow. This absolutely can happen from an older child falling on her. She instinctively put her hand out to stop herself. Then his weight would increase the force even more.

I hate to admit that I probably would not have called the parent either. At least, not right away. I don't know why they didn't notice that she wasn't using the arm. But maybe she was at first. By your description, she has a high tolerance for pain and is a happy girl in general.

I agree with the other poster below about how often we would have to call. I don't write up incident reports. I'd have to run off 200 at the beginning of the year! My kids trip each other, fall down, wrestle with each other, even though I do NOT allow it.

One thing that's really hard with kids her age is the way they are always under feet. They tend to wander around, follow people, and they are short and sometimes quiet. I don't like it, but I probably turn around suddenly and knock a child on their butt 3-4 times per week. It's so hard to know what to do with them. We can not keep them up in a high chair or a crib all the time. Yet, have you noticed that 25-40 years ago it would have been considered NORMAL to keep kids in playpens virtually all day long? It was the way they kept them safe. Play yards were much larger. Of course, back then we had steam heat or the big furnaces in the floor that would burn the heck out of a child that walked across them.

I'm sorry this happened to you. The fact that it happened in her first week has you totally freaked, mad at yourself for putting her there, and mistrustful. I don't blame you. I'm just giving you my perspective as a provider.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

Poor little thing - what a trooper! I thought I'd let you know sometimes a broken arm must not hurt as much as we imagine. Our 7 yr old son fell over on his bike in October and my husband brought him home. When he got home he said it did not hurt much anymore and instead of taking him to the ER like we were going to, we decided to wait. He also was not using his arm.The next morning he said it hurt a little but not much. We told him to take it easy and we sent him to school. I thought, well, it's probably not broken but I made a Dr. appt for that afternoon. They xrayed him and yes, it was broken (a fracture) and he got his first cast. I felt bad that we sent him to school with a broken arm! We just did not know. Anyway, perhaps the incident at the daycare did not seem like that big of a deal and perhaps your daughter did not act too upset. Kids do sometimes run into each other or fall...I'm sure it happens MANY times daily at any daycare/preschool/school. I am so sorry your daughter got hurt. I just thought I'd tell you sometimes it is hard to tell when an accident is serious or not.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

its not the providers fault. its not like the bone was popping out. kids fall on kids all the time. her arm was sore. if your arm is sore you dont use it either! but would you think it was broken? nope.. take a deep breath it was an accident.

my daughter at 18 months stepped in a hole and i heard a pop. she whined but would not walk on it after 6 hours so i had her xrayed. nothing showed up (she sprained it. but they told us could still be fractured so if she wasnt using it in 2 weeks bring her back. she did end up being fine though.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

Wow, this is a tough one, because usually the incidents that are reported are when one child hits, kicks, or bites another child. Unless she was inconsolable, they probably had no idea of the severity of the injury. I really doubt that they report each time one child falls on another one. They'd spend half their days filing incident reports if they did.

I know it is hard, but I think this might be something that you have to accept just happened. Still, if you feel uneasy about it, have a talk with the director to see what their policy is regarding this type of incident.

Hope your little girl heals quickly & feels better soon! Poor baby :(

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Omaha on

As a childcare provider, at the time that the boy fell on her, it may not have seemed like it was a big deal. They were most likely more concerned with her lip.

If you took her to the doctor and HE missed her broken arm, I can't really imagine that the daycare would have been able to properly diagnose her broken arm.

Kids fall down constantly. Kids get hit with flying toys. Kids fall of playground equipment. My goodness...if we called the parents or reported each time this happened, we would be writing books to each parent. I do not think that this daycare was negligent in their care for her. The fact that her teacher (according to you) is very young, may not have the knowledge to be able to spot an injury that appears to be mimimal, other than where there is clear evidence ( blood.) You didn't even know it was broken until you took her for an xray two days later and you had picture evidence. How would the daycare know if you didn't know? Neither one of you has been to medical school. And the doctor that HAS, misdiagnosed her as well. Will you be changing doctors, too?

I DO NOT think you should contact an attorney, as other posters have suggested. This situation does not warrant that outcome. It is very hard to prove negligence, for this very reason, and I think you really have to understand that this type of thing happens with kids EVERYDAY.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

Having a child fall on another child is an everyday sort of occurrence. I wouldn't expect that they'd call you. It took your mom awhile to notice that she wasn't using her arm and so I wouldn't expect that the day care teacher would notice it.

However, my concern would be does this explanation adequately explain the injury? I wouldn't expect that a fall would break an arm. Babies bones are still flexible and do not break easily. It could be that the fall could do this damage under some circumstances. For example if her arm was at an odd angle when she fell on it. I would want to know if the doctor thinks that having another baby/child fall on her makes sense.

To me, the injury is suspicious and I might change providers. But I'd ask more questions before I'd make that decision.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

I think aside from the doctor not being adequate in his diagnosis, someone should have at least noted the bloody lip on pickup. I can see not noticing something if she didn't display the same symptoms at the time of the incident but something could have been said when she was picked up.

While I would be concerned about the injury, one of SD's friends dislocated her elbow and needed surgery - she was older (probably 7). She did a flying leap off our swing and didn't seem to land weird. I was right there watching them not 10 feet away and it wasn't til the kid dusted herself off that I realized anything was wrong. Another friend's kid fell over his own feet in his own yard. Bam - broken arm. Kids just don't know how to fall. It's still disheartening for a parent, but very common. I would believe the big kid falling story after those incidents.

Like someone else said, nursmaid's elbow can reoccur. My SIL had to learn how to pop her daughter's elbow back in place til she outgrew it.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Accidents happen.... Yes you are po'd....

Many children break an arm or leg ( even on moms watch) and it is not noticed right away.

So bottom line... You are po'd. What do you want? Do you want to file a lawsuit, pay $$ out of pocket to go " make them pay" ? This accident could easily happen on you or your moms watch.

If it makes you feel better, go find another daycare.

So many people are so gong ho on filing lawsuits, they only think of financial gain.

Get a clear head and make your decision based on facts vs your emotions.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

My son, now 11, had a similar incident when he was 3 years old, at preschool. We were living in Plano, TX & he was a a VERY highly recommended preschool there. He was going down the slide on the playground when another boy came down right behind him. My son fell into the wood chips. He got up, started playing again, and went about his day. I had picked him up about 30 minutes later. He was totally normal. His arm was a little swollen around the elbow the following evening, so I took him to the doctor that night. They took an x-ray - nothing. Fast forward 2 days after the initial trip to the doc & 2 x-rays later at an orthopedic doctor - voila! we have answers. He had a hairline fracture in the bone of his elbow. When I picked him up from school the day of the incident, I could tell he had been crying, and the school told me about it. Funny thing, though, he was crying because he got pushed and got wood chips on his then favorite shirt - NOT because he was hurt. It took me THREE doctors and THREE xrays to find a broken arm. It was his left arm, so he didn't use it as much for daily function (eating, writing, etc.), so it wasn't apparent. Same kid, 18 months earlier - trips over a toy he was carrying, had a hairline fracture in his right arm. He went overnight & a cross country plane ride before he quit using his right arm - come to find out he had a minor hairline fracture in his ulna. I was 2 feet from him & tended to him immediately when he fell.

I agree with a lot of the posters before me, kids can "break" their bones, especially their arms, so so easily - on your watch, your mother's watch or your childcare providers watch, even without you knowing it has happened. If you were at the park, and the same thing happened, you would have cleaned up her lip & unless she was overtly complaining in pain about her arm, would have not even addressed it. Does that make you negligent as a parent? Absolutely not. If she had a bone protruding out of her arm, I have no doubt she would have been on her way to the ER immediately, but these little fractures are SO hard to see sometimes.

At the end of the day, I think you are right to question the process with the provider and the lack of notification, but there are 2 sides to every story. I am not a lawyer, but I would highly discourage your emotional desire to sue this provider over what you deem "negligence." That is such a discretionary term, and incredibly hard to prove. I think you would be appalled what "neglect" is considered in the court and would fall over about how severe that lack of care is. This is not neglect. This is a toddler in a normal environment with other kids, and an injury that, I assure you won't be her last.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Savannah on

Your question is why I haven't put any of my kids in daycare. I've read far to many horror stories about it, so we bit the bullet and I became a SAHM.

Honestly, my first instinct would be to yank your little one out so fast there's a dust outline. But I don't know your circumstances.

Yes, there should have been an incident report, as well as notifying you from the get-go. If they're hiding a broken arm from you, what else are they hiding? Not to fear monger, just going stream of consciousness here.

Honestly, I'm a bit miffed at your doctor too. A dislocation can happen, and pretty frequently with kids. But that he didn't take any x-rays, that's a huge problem. Especially if he went yanking on the limb. He could have made the break much, much worse.

Good luck, and here's some hugs.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from New York on

Yes, I'd talk to the director about policy and when they do or do not report an incident and when they call vs. tell you at pick up time. Also get the details from the teacher who was there. My kids' preschool I got incident reports when there was biting (either the biter or the bitten) or a bumped head or cut but not every trip or bump. A group of kids around 13 months and a few months either way are all new walkers and fall frequently. If your daughter was not crying or see in pain they may not have realized there was an injury--even the first doctor missed the fracture though he or she should probably have done an x-ray just in case. I have heard of other incidents where a break was not obvious for several hours or overnight or even that couldn't be set right away because of swelling.

I can see why you are upset that your child got hurt. On the other hand I worked for child protective services and I doubt there would have been neglect allegations if this happened when a parent was watching the child.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Oklahoma City on

B., normally I am on the side of the provider but in this case I feel you have grounds for a law suit. They have insurance to take care of it but your little one did not receive the care she needed unless the incident happened within one minute of grandma arriving. The teacher would not have needed more than that to see that an incident had happened and that she was hurt.

The director should have been notified that an accident had happened and a call to you should have been done immediately.

If this had happened in my facility I would expect to be sued. I would expect to have a visit from my licensing worker, I would also expect a visit from a child welfare investigator.

And here are all those peoples names except the attorney that you will have to find on your own...

This is the state website that lists the county licensing agencies websites and information.

On the right side of this page is a list of contact numbers.

I am sorry your child had this happen to them. It is not normal for this to happen in any child care setting. It is normal for kids to get bumps and bruises that no one knows how they got them. Kids just get hurt but not broken and damaged.

Please don't let them get away with this. The teacher should have to be in the classroom only when supervised for at least 3 months to learn how to properly supervise the children under her care. She needs to be aware that accidents need to be reported right away and that she messed up, or she did what she was supposed to do and the person she told did not follow through. An investigation is surely needed in this instance.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Francisco on


I am SO sorry!!!!! I would file a claim against the daycare and report them as well. Change providers immediately. What occured with your child is reckless, negligent and completely unacceptable. They should have an injury form ready for instances such as this and you should have been notified even with the bloody lip but definitely with the arm. Document everything and make the daycare pay for ALL of your child's expenses. You should also get a refund on the day that she was there. They dropped the ball and your child payed the price for it. I am so, so, sorry. GL and tell us what happens.


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Hi, B.:
Both the day care and the Doctor need to be held accountable for
their part in your child's injury.

Writing a letter to the head of the day care and to the Doctor personally.
In the letter to he day care explain what happened from the time you/your mom picked up your child.

Explain what you thought about when you realized what had happened.
Tell her/him what impact this incident has had on you andd others.
Tell him/her what has been the hardest thing for you.
Tell him/her what you thinik neees to happen to make things right.

To the Doctor:
Tell him what happened with the visit to his clinic and what you thought when you realized what had happened as a result of his diagnosis.
Tell him what impact this incident has had on you and others.
Tell he whaat has been thhe hardest thing for you.
Tell him what you think needs to happen to make things right.

Hope this helps.
They do need to be held accountable.
If they don't respond to make things right then
for the day care find out the source that monitors them and report them.
For the Doctor. If he doesn't respond, contact the medical board in your state.
Good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I know that a bigger child fell on her while playing. Kids tumble over each other daily but unless she complained to the teacher or was crying there is really no way that the daycare would have known the extent of the injury. They might have noticed that she wasn't playing with the arm as much as usual with one look but how many other children have to be watched during the time frame. I understand you are upset but children fall, tumble, trip. Unless a complaint was issued or swelling noticed they might not have even realized the extent of the injury due to having to watch other kids. You said that the swelling didn't even happen until 2 days later. I think you should discuss it with the director. In Texas if a child is taken to a Doctor for injury from an incident at daycare it has to be reported to the state agency. The daycare also has liability insurance for incidents like this. I think you have a right to be upset over the injury because it is a serious one. But I think you might need to take a step back and look at the situation.

What were the circumstances surrounding the incident - what was the bigger child doing when he fell on her?
Did the daycare notice anything out of the ordinary or did your daughter issue any complaints to the teacher? - Remember you see her playing (just her and no other kids playing) you will pick up on small differences whereas a daycare teacher with several kids might not catch that so fast.
If you keep her there ask them to report everytime she has any incident no matter how small or seemingly insignificant it will be.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Antonio on

A bigger child falling on her would not result in a broken arm and a dislocated elbow! I would report the daycare immediately!!

I would also change providers (which you said you're doing) and make sure the doctor knows why you did.


1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

Wow, that's crazy! Is the daycare licensed by the state? You definitely need to make sure the director of the daycare knows what happened and express your concern about the supervision. At my son's daycare, they will call me for the most minor things -- they err on the side of extreme caution about that kind of thing, especially when he was younger. His first daycare was a different story -- at 3 months old, I picked him up and he had bite marks on his FACE, and nobody could tell me what happened. Needless to say that was his last day at that daycare.

On the other hand, sometimes breaks don't start to be painful until later on. I walked around on a broken foot for two days before going to the doctor when it just didn't seem to be getting better. I had only tripped on a crack in the sidewalk -- it didn't seem like an extreme accident at the time. If your daughter wasn't expressing too much pain -- wasn't crying, wasn't drawing attention to her arm -- it could be that the teacher assumed she was fine.

I would go in and have a frank conversation with the director. Accidents happen when you put a bunch of kids together in a room, but I think they should have looked at her arm more carefully and called.



answers from San Francisco on

Call an attorney and file a complaint with your state.



answers from Minneapolis on

You should have been notified. A bigger kid falling on her is not something to report to parents, unless the kids get hurt in some way. Did the teacher know that your daughter got hurt? The teachers have their handful , so unless your daughter cried in pain or had visible injuries, they might not have noticed. I have always heard breaking your bone is very painful , I am wondering how your daughter continued to play with a broken arm and dislocated elbow. Maybe the teacher didn't realize the extent of the injury based on the fact that your daughter might not have cried and complained after the fall. But if she did complain and if the teacher neglected to let you know about the injury, then yes, it is definitely a big deal.
Hope your daughter gets better soon!



answers from Washington DC on

Hi B. - I know I'm really late here but thought I'd chime in. I'd check your daycare's handbook to see what the process is for dealing with injuries. I agree with others that the arm injury may have been easily missed at least immediately but you say that she also had a bloody lip. Not so easy to miss. At the pre-school where my daughter is they would have had to fill out a report, treat with ice and call a parent. In fact I just got a call this AM from her school because she accidently got bopped in the head by a doll and they put ice on it. It would really bother me that they didn't at least tell you about the incident when she was picked up. These things happen but its their responsibility to tell you.

I hope your daughter is feeling much better.



answers from Huntsville on

Oh my! Yes, you certainly should have been notified! Our daycare would sometimes call & tell me my daughter fell or bumped something, etc. just so I'd know where a bruise or other mark came from.

So sorry this happened to your daughter. I hope she heals fast & feels better soon!


answers from Washington DC on


Welcome to mamapedia!

It appears you are just around the corner from me, in Herndon.

What day care provider did you use? If it was Kindercare - they have protocols in place to provide parents information regarding incidents. Your mother should have been given an incident report for her to sign when she picked up your daughter noting that she received a bloody/split lip after another child fell on her.

They may have been focused on the bloody lip so depending upon the time of the incident - your mom may have picked her up 5 or 10 minutes after it happened - therefore, they could not have called you as sometimes it can take a little bit for a provider to call the parent after an incident. Even after pick up the Center Director or Assistant Director should have called you to let you know there was an incident.

Call the Center Director. Then call Corporate. They should pay or reimburse you for any medical expenses and co-pays. If they refuse to - then hire an attorney and file a complaint.



answers from Chicago on

I think if a child fell on your daughter, the teacher should be present to making sure she's not doing anything weird, like not using her arm. Negligent IMO. You should also have been given a written incident report for her lip. I'd switch daycares, this one incident tells me a lot about the place. I used to be a daycare teacher and this is inexcusable. And if they are "too busy" or not required to do an accident/incident report for a bloody lip, I do NOT want my 13 month old in their care.



answers from Washington DC on

Call child protective services and report the center for reckless endangerment of a child and neglect. The "bigger' child should not have been anywhere near your child in order for her to get hurt. Also call the hospital and inform them that you want file a complaint against the Dr. who misdiagnosed her...then consult an attorney.

Ask the daycare center to show you the indecent report. If they have none, let protective services and the attorney know at the time of your call they could not produce one.



answers from Houston on

My bil is finishing medical school and his daughter broker her arm, by simply tripping on a curb on the sidewalk and he took her straight to the Dr and they didn't catch it the first day either.

You took her to a Dr one day and the broken arm wasn't caught then, until the swelling happened the second day and then it was caught by an xray by a different Dr. These things happen quite often... especially since she was otherwise acting fine. I wouldn't expect the childcare provider to know there as a serious issue if even a Dr didn't know, so they likely didn't think anything of it. They should still have told you based on the bloody lip alone, even if they had not noticed the arm, it should be written in her daily chart, if the provider has one.

Next question: Broken Arm at Daycare