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One of Seattle’s Top Child Abuse Experts Under Review Amid Questions About Her Credibility

todayMarch 29, 2021 27

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An investigation revealed the doctor was not certified to work child abuse cases and had lied to prosecutors about her experience.

What We Know:

  • Dr. Elizabeth Woods is the former head of the child abuse intervention program at Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital in Tacoma, Washington. For years she was considered the go-to expert on child abuse cases in the state. However, last month she was removed from the board that provides expert medical reports to Washington’s child welfare agencies.
  • In her position, Woods’ opinion was often the deciding factor in whether children were separated from their parents. Child abuse pediatricians are trained to know the difference between accidental and inflicted injuries, making them specialists in this regard. Woods’ opinion was the deciding factor in at least four cases where children were separated from their parents.
  • Last year, NBC reviewed court records and interviews of Woods and found that she lacked the specific training needed to fill her position. At a hearing in 2019, Woods was asked how she became a leading authority in the field. Woods replied that she hadn’t passed the board certification exam or completed the required three-year fellowship to become a child abuse expert.
  • Under oath, Woods maintained that a “small minority” of child abuse consultants had received training or completed the fellowship, which she claimed began just three years ago. She lied; the fellowships were first offered 15 years ago and there are over 375 certified specialists in the country. The investigation found there are three qualified physicians practicing as child specialists in Washington, Woods isn’t one.
  • Concerns over Woods’ qualifications first began in 2018, according to King5. In one instance, child services took two kids from their mother after Woods’ report stated she was giving her daughter unnecessary medical treatments. The kids were returned 14 months later after a judge ruled Woods’ findings were “without supporting factual basis”.

With Woods no longer an employee of the state, it remains to be seen what will happen to the still-pending child welfare cases she worked on. Sill, the door has now opened for some of her past decisions to be appealed by families.

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todayMarch 28, 2021 10