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CONTACT 13: Medical mystery surrounds baby burn

Posted at 10:45 PM, Apr 28, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-29 14:26:01-04

Tonight, Contact 13 investigates a medical mystery.

A valley baby covered in burns that seem to be coming from nowhere. 

It's a case that has one mother firing a warning shot--telling Chief Investigator Darcy Spears other children could suffer the same fate.

"When you took off her diaper, what were you thinking?" Darcy Spears asked Antonesia Crockett.

"I  freaked out.  I just panicked," Antonesia said, remembering the five days earlier this month when her 13-month-old daughter, Malaysia was in University Medical Center's burn unit with blisters on her back and buttocks.

Antonesia: And as  I 'm holding her, it's getting worse and you could see the blisters just busting.
Darcy: She must've been in a lot of pain.
Antonesia: Very much.  They had to give her morphine just to do her dressings.  She was in a lot of pain!

Pictures the family took show how things progressed as Malaysia went through treatment for second-degree burns.

Darcy: It's hard to look at the pictures of her skin.
Antonesia: It is.  It was even harder having to sit in the room and watch them do her dressings every day in the hospital as she screamed at the top of her lungs.

What caused the burns is a source of contention. 

Antonesia firmly believes the culprit is a combination of medicines prescribed to treat eczema--Mupirocin ointment and Triamcinolone cream. 

More info on Mupirocin

Antonesia says they used the creams for the first time the day Malaysia wound up in the emergency room.

"We put a little bit of cream on her legs but not too much. We initially put the most cream on her back and her butt. And we applied a second coat, like they told us, and that's when it just lost it within a couple hours."

UMC records say "An argument could be made that the extra amount of Mupirocin could explain maybe why the back and buttocks seem to be more affected." 

Doctors told Antonesia to stop using both medications.

The National Institutes of Health warn Mupirocin can cause blistering and burning. 

Triamcinolone can do the same, and also cause change in skin color and an oozing infection.

More info on Triamcinolone

"My first thought was, what happened? And then, we only put the cream on her," said Antonesia. "We didn't do anything else. Just the cream."

But UMC staff members weren't so sure.

They called police and Child Protective Services after seeing Malaysia's injuries.

Darcy: What were they trying to say?
Antonesia: That maybe we spilled something hot on her or maybe one of my kids spilled something hot on her. And they wouldn't transfer us to the burn unit until CPS and the police came to see us first.

Could it have been one of those creams commonly prescribed to kids? 

Or was the baby placed in or splashed by something hot? 

There's been no medical determination about what caused Malaysia's burns.  

UMC sent this statement:

Anytime a child is brought into any Emergency Department or is admitted to any hospital, it is a legal mandate that licensed healthcare workers MUST report to CPS anything they find suspicious. This can occur when a physical exam is done and bruises are found, old burns are seen, or x-rays demonstrate healing fractures. It can happen if the child has injuries suspicious of sexual abuse. It can happen if a parent or other brings a child in with injuries after an accident and the nature of the accident doesn’t make sense especially in relation to the degree or type of injury found. Our obligation as healthcare providers is to report - not under report in an effort to keep every child safe. Much like the school district, if licensed caregivers are aware of something and fail to report they can be charged with negligence to report.  It’s a much better scenario to report a suspicion of child abuse, and have it unfounded, then to misdiagnose a child in danger.

Darcy: How did you feel about being accused?
Antonesia:  I  flipped. I was mad at the nurses. I just lost it.

According to UMC records, CPS evaluated Malaysia and determined it was safe for her to go home. 

They did a follow-up visit and Antonesia was never charged with anything. 

North Las Vegas Police said, "Responding officers investigated and were told by the attending physician that the injury was not suspicious in nature. There is no criminal report due to the lack of evidence of a crime."

Back at home, Malaysia's skin is healing, but her mother says she'll never forget her baby's pain.