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Pediatric Critical Care Medicine:
Case Reports

Munchausen syndrome by proxy in the pediatric intensive care unit: An unusual mechanism

Kamerling, Lisa B. MD; Black, Xaviera A. RN; Fiser, Richard T. MD

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Abstract

Objective: To present a case of Munchausen syndrome by proxy (MSbP) by a previously unreported mechanism, discussing the occurrence of MSbP in patients in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) and the use of covert video surveillance in the diagnosis of MSbP.

Design: Report of one case of a child who was proven to be the victim of MSbP while hospitalized in a PICU.

Setting: A six-bed PICU in a military teaching hospital.

Patients: One patient hospitalized for evaluation of confusing symptoms, later shown to be the victim of MSbP while on mechanical ventilation in the PICU. The mechanism of MSbP was intentional tracheal extubation by the patient’s mother.

Interventions: Covert video surveillance.

Measurements and Main Results: After initiation of covert video surveillance in the PICU, the diagnosis of MSbP was confirmed. The patient recovered with some physical sequelae.

Conclusions: Children can be victims of MSbP even in a closely monitored PICU. Covert video surveillance was crucial to confirming the diagnosis.

©2002The Society of Critical Care Medicine and the World Federation of Pediatric Intensive and Critical Care Societies

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