Injury Prevention

Ensuring Safe Ride Home from the Hospital

By: Kevin Borrup, DrPh, JD, MPA

It’s a question we frequently get from Connecticut Children’s Division of Orthopedics – can we provide a specialized car seat to a young patient who will soon undergo hip surgery to facilitate a safe ride home?

We provide the service through our Safe Kids Connecticut program, which is run by Luis Rivera and is part of Connecticut Children’s Injury Prevention Center. Luis is a NHTSA Certified Child Passenger Safety Technician-Instructor and often directly installs car seats for families with the safety of the young passenger being his top concern.

Specialized Car Seat Loaner Program

The car seat loaner service is something families greatly appreciate, as it takes a bit of stress away from them as they prepare for their child to undergo a challenging surgery and lengthy recovery afterward.

Since Safe Kids Connecticut began the car seat loaner program in 2019, we have helped more than 100 families through the initiative.

Earlier this year, Luis installed a specialized car seat for a family whose daughter was born with two dislocated hips and needed to have two surgeries. After surgery, she needed to be in a spica cast for 14 months, which immobilizes a patient’s hips and legs so developmental hip dysplasia can be corrected or so a child can heal from an injury or surgical procedure. 

Without the Safe Kids Connecticut car seat loaner program, families would either need to purchase a specialized seat on their own at a cost of $600 or they would need to ride in an ambulance to get home, which is also very expensive. Also, without a specialized car seat, families would be unable to get their children to their follow up appointments.

“They’re so expensive so it was such a huge blessing to get a loaner one for free,” stated the mom we helped in this situation. “We have a lot of other expenses related to this so to not have the car seat expense was huge.”

Learn more about Connecticut Children’s Division of Orthopedics.

Potentially Life Saving Discovery

With each installation, we make sure that the loaner seat we provide is in good working order so it is safe for each child who uses it. To do this, we properly adjust all harnesses and we install the seat according to the manufacturer’s recommendation for the child’s height and weight.

While working with the family to install a brand new specialized seat earlier this year, Luis noticed that a vital part that keeps the seat locked in place was broken. This was very unusual and the first time he encountered anything like this. It was a potentially deadly problem if not caught and corrected.

Image shows the faulty car seat clip.

Luis immediately provided the child’s mother with a replacement seat made by a different manufacturer so she would be prepared for their ride home after her daughter’s surgery. He also opened two other boxes containing the same seat and found the same issue. Luis contacted the manufacturer to get replacement parts and instructions on how to fix the seats. He also reported the problem to the manufacturer so they could investigate whether a recall was needed, even demonstrating the problem during a video call. At this point, they have decided not to issue a recall.

Learn more about Connecticut Children’s Injury Prevention Center.

Going Above and Beyond for Child Safety

At Connecticut Children’s Injury Prevention Center, we are committed to going above and beyond to ensure safety for children. Our intervention in this case was potentially life-saving for this child. To make sure other children are not endangered, Luis reported the issue to the Consumer Product Safety Commission so they can investigate if any other seats are affected.

Mom was very appreciative of our help – for both providing the loaner seat and also for being thorough in making sure the seat was in safe working order.

Through his actions in this case, Luis exemplified what we want to see in all of our team members – a questioning attitude and a dogged pursuit of making things right, not just for a specific patient and family, but for all children and families. 

Kevin Borrup, DrPH, JD, MPA, is the interim director of Connecticut Children’s Injury Prevention Center.

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