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A potentially life threatening mistake

Early this morning I was doing my emails in my study, when I suddenly heard my wife arguing with someone downstairs. The arguing got louder and louder and I heard one of the nannies scream at Grace. I had no idea what was going on, and because the kids were also downstairs I walked down to see what was happening.

It seemed that Grace was extremely angry, and I heard something about medicine but could not really figure out what the whole thing was about. The kids pretended they did not hear anything and talked to me as if nobody else was in the room (“Good morning daddy, shall we play?”), but I thought it was better for them to play in a different room because the situation looked like it would escalate.

So I put the kids in the play room and then Grace’s mother (who is visiting) came in to tell me that Scott’s nanny had given him 10 times too much medicine! I understood that that may be a life threatening mistake and that Grace had every right to be angry. Grace then fired the nanny on the spot, which I found a bit harsh, upon which the nanny threatened to call the police. When Grace said that was fine she (of course) did not call the cops and after some more arguing about how much money we owed her (and being paid) she left to pack her belongings.

Then I heard the whole story, which was even worse than I had expected. Scott had been sick with high fever over the past days, so he went to see a doctor on Monday. Turns out he had a throat infection. Nothing too bad, he had it a few months before as well (pollution related? I hope not) and we still had the medicine left at home for him in a bottle. He was supposed to get 4 ml once or twice a day. At night Grace noticed that the bottle was almost empty, which surprised her because she thought the bottle had still been half full.

So she asked the nanny whether she had given Scott too much medicine. She said that that was not the case and that she had given Scott the amount that Grace’ father had told her to give to Scott. Grace asked how much that was and she told Grace to ask her father. So she did and he confirmed 4 ml per time. Then the nanny said that she indeed had given Scott 4 ml but that she had given him twice 4 ml. Grace showed her how much 4 ml is and she said that that is how much Scott got. Strange of course, but it could be that there had been less medicine left in the bottle than we thought.

But this morning the nanny went to Grace’ parents and told them that she had not slept the whole night and confessed she had given Scott 40 ml instead of 4 ml. Grace parents then told this to Grace right away, and then she got really upset with the nanny. Not only because the nanny had made a huge mistake, but especially because she had tried to cover it up and put Scott in potentially serious danger. Had she told Grace right away she would not have been fired, but by trying to cover it up there was no other choice than to fire her. So she left, and as we found out a few minutes later, she had stolen a few hundred RMB as well right before she walked out of the house.

We then immediately got in touch with the doctor. She told us that it was too late to do anything, had we come to her yesterday they would have emptied Scott’s stomach, but now the medicine was in his system already. There is not much we can do except giving him as much to drink as possible so he can go to the toilet. He may have stomach ache and may have to vomit (which he did actually). For now Scott seems to be okay, he was laying on the couch playing a bit with the cushions and told me he had a headache, but there did not seem to be anything seriously wrong with him. Likely things will be fine as long as Scott keeps on drinking. If he does not he will have to get an IV drip in the hospital to stay hydrated.

What happened today was a major scare for us, and not the first one we had with nannies: I could write a book about all the things we have experienced so far with domestic staff. From now on we will give the kids their medicine ourselves, it seems you can’t trust nannies to do this anymore. We have to go to Singapore tonight but of course will only go if Scott is really fine over the next couple of hours.

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  1. Wow – pretty amazing how selfish and destructive the Ayi was. Your kids health is at stake so she fights about it, steals some cash and leaves.

    Glad it’s working out though!

  2. Yes, Ayis (Chinese in general) have a totally different way of approaching illness. From going directly to the hospital with a slight fever, to the use of medicines that are not known to us. Never never trust an Ayi with Western medicines…..
    Good to read that this hard lesson looks to have a good ending.
    Take care!

  3. After reading the story, I’m glad that the nanny felt bad and told your parents, otherwise you would not know what would be wrong with your son and in the end turns out she’s a thief. Would not want anybody like that in your house. All worked out for the best.

  4. Singapore has great hospitals, so it may be worth getting a second opinion whilst there?

  5. Hope all will be fine. Sounds familiar to what I saw happening in a plane recently, I told the parents immediately to see a doctor after landing as I also thought they gave too high dosage.

    We have very strict written rules for our nanny when it comes down to Health & Safety (including to check with in advance for any medicine, even simple paracetemol) and it is entirely clear to her that any HSE incident (eg if our daughter falls from the stairs due to not closing the door) will lead to instant dismissal (if confirmed). At all times the safety of our child must be her priority; no exceptions.

  6. I have no idea about medical issues…