Teenager taken away from parents by hospital a year ago. Accused of "over medicalizing" her

This bizarre tale hardly seems possible. Is there more context that would explain how the hospital justifies its actions?
Another story link with pic here

I don’t know any more about this than what is in your links, but I feel pretty confident in asserting that the answer to your question is yes. Those stories basically only give the parents side of the story, and very likely the hospital can’t give its side for legal/confidentiality reasons. Even so, it is clear enough that they think the parents were doing something very bad to their daughter. Maybe Munchhausen by proxy. Hospitals have no motive for snatching kids away from their parents for no reason. This is going to cost the hospital a lot of money, even if they win the court case. Of course, the hospital’s people could be mistaken, but that is why it is with the courts to sort out.

One of the articles says “over medicating,” not “over medicalizing.”

It also says the parents were resistant to recommended treatment plans.

I would be interested to know what medications the hospital thinks the parents were giving the teen in excessive doses. But as above poster pointed out, confidentiality issues will prevent the hospital from presenting their side publicly.

The hospital could be wrong, but if the parents really were giving her too much medication or refusing to follow evidence-based care recommended by reputable doctors, then IMO the hospital is doing the right thing.

Yep, there’s a lot of context. You can see some of it in that first article, if you know how to translate medicolegal phrases.

“Due to concerns regarding Justina’s regressive behavior changes around her family, the multiple medical procedures and care episodes she has been through … and both parents’ resistance towards recommended treatment plans for Justina … a child protection team was convened.”

Regressive behavior changes is doctor speak for the patient acting differently, usually sicker, in specific situations. Multiple medical procedures and care episodes means she’s been in the hospital a LOT even for someone with her declared diagnoses. Resistance toward recommended treatment plans is pretty self-explanatory. The article also states the hospital stopped more than one medication she was taking on admission, and that she’s been seeing a clinical psychologist for five years. That last bit may or may not be relevant, since it’s unclear whether she started seeing him before or after her diagnosis with mitochondrial disease.

So you have a kid whose symptoms worsen around her family, who has had more hospital interventions than you would expect for the situation, who’s on more medicine than you would expect or think is good for her, whose parents are totally opposed to your recommendations. That’s going to raise flags for further evaluation, and rightly so. And if the parents lost custody in 4 days and still haven’t got the kid back–well, around here it’s damn near impossible to get a kid removed from the home that quickly when they’re being beaten, ya know?

The girl’s psychologist supports the parents in the article, for what that is worth. You’d think years of treatment might turn up evidence of Munchhausen by proxy.

Then there are claims in the article comments(among the Lyme loons) that this is not the first time this has happened at that hospital(kids getting removed from parent’s custody for spurious matters).

There are also claims the girl is bedbound in the hospital and losing weight since she was taken.

Then the article unwisely mentions she is sneaking notes to her parents in secret.

However, these were apparently recommended treatment plans, not required treatment plans. I thought the essence of a recommendation was, “If you ask me, this is what I think you should do. However, in the end you have to make your own decision and live with the result”. Is there a legal principle requiring parents to follow any and every “recommendation” issued by someone with a diploma on the wall or are they allowed to think it through rationally and make their own call?

We won’t probably ever know what’s true due to privacy laws. “Recommended” may not have been the appropriate term. Doctors can “recommend” you treat a certain cancer with a particular treatment regimen, but failing to follow it might mean that your only real alternative is dying. An adult can get away with doing that in their own treatment, but things can change dramatically when you’re talking about minors.

From what I read, the implication is that they believe the psychologist is part of the problem. If she’s been seeing them for five years, that’s clearly from before the mitochondrial diagnosis. If it was a psychiatrist, instead of a psychologist, I would think that the unnecessary medication they took her off of was prescribed by him, given what info we do have.

I could buy that an overzealous hospital could get the child taken away for a couple days until investigation happened. I do not buy they could get child services to terminate custody. My mom is a special education teacher who has to constantly deal with parents who will not follow recommended treatment options with their kids, thinking that medication is a sign of giving up or something. And yet none of these kids can get taken away from their parents. (Heck, even parents convicted of using their son’s medications to make meth wound up getting their kids back in a couple months.)

So if the kid has been taken away for that logn, it’s got to be pretty dadblasted bad.

pretty dadblasted bad eh? then how would you describe it when the kid is forcibly taken from the mother’s womb by c-section?


That maybe the story wasn’t as cut-and-dried as some sensationalist news stories claimed? That the mother had serious, unmedicated bipolar disorder, and already had her previous children taken away by Italian courts? That she wasn’t forcibly C-sectioned but rather she was at risk for uterine rupture and her own counsel advocated it be done?

thanks for the update. i knew there were more to the story but didn’t think that the main point of the article, that social services were involved with the c-section itself, was completely wrong.

That article in buzzfeed mentions the C-section several times, but also says that whatever actions were involved were initiated after the baby was born.

WTF? They did a C-section after the baby was born? That article still hasn’t got the story straight.


Is this saying the C-section was done first, and then afterward there was legal action to put the baby into protective custody, or what?

I’m not saying that no one ever makes a wrong medical decision for someone else, but when I heard that story I hoped there was more to it than that. It sounds like there was. I can’t say I’m entirely sure about whether a UK-based court should be deciding where her child ends up, but yeah, it seems that it wasn’t just a nervous woman being kidnapped and forcibly sedated. (Thank goodness.)

However, if I’m understanding the article correctly, she has been in the hospital continuously for 10 months, ever since child services seized custody.

NHS had to obtain the judge’s permission to perform the cesarean, as the mother was unfit to give or deny consent (she was suffering from paranoid delusions). The judge granted the permission and warned local authorities that any attempts to take the child into government custody needed to go through the court as well.

Once the child was born, the local equivalent of CPS started proper proceedings to take the child into government custody; these proceedings involved interested parties in Italy as well as those in the UK.

The legal actions to take the child started after she was born; the birth was by court-ordered cesarean, but the agencies involved were different ones and the two processes are different ones.

I read that and immediately thoughts that that makes no sense at all in the parents’ story.

What are they implying? That the courts are even refusing to allow even supervised visits? Is that why she has to send notes in secret? It doesn’t make sense.

Why wouldn’t the courts allow visits to the hospital in allow her to say the messages in person?

There has to be more to the story.

I guess I missed that, but then if this is a case of rogue whackjob psychologist why are the parents being punished? If a layperson is taken in by rogue medical professional shouldn’t the pro be punished and sanctioned, not removing the child from the parents? I mean religious parents can make such medical decisions as letting a child die because care is sinful, but this is ok?

So if I ever get hookwinked by a crazy med pro as relates to my child’s care, I’m going to instantly and permanently loose custody?! Or because I make a decision against care? :smack: Shit one pediatrician wanted to put my son on ketoconazole for months for a minor mouth candida, seeing the side effects I said forget it lets see if it clears up by itself and it did. Shit I hope CPS don’t swoop in…

The parents are not being punished; the kid is being protected. She hasn’t been taken away from the parents in order to punish them. (Punishment may come later, if and when they are tried and convicted for child abuse.) Anyway, BigT’s claim is only that the psychologist maybe part of the problem, not that the parents aren’t part of it too.

The main point, though, is that we simply do not know what the rights and wrongs of this situation are. The news report is clearly one sided and very incomplete. It might turn out that the hospital has screwed up in some way. However, it might also turn out that there is something sketchy about the parents and/or the psychologist. I think the majority of us in this thread suspect the latter is more likely, but no-one will know for sure until it all gets to court.

No, you’re not going to instantly and permanently lose custody if you’re hoodwinked by a crazy doctor. You may temporarily lose custody until you can be convinced that the doctor is crazy , and if you can’t be so convinced, it may turn out to be permanent but it won’t be instant. In this case, it is still not permanent ten months later- if it were, there would not have been a court date scheduled for Dec 4. And if the situation were a little different - for example, a parent who wouldn’t consent to surgery- there might be no loss of custody at all just a court order authorizing the surgery.

And by the way,parents who allow their child to die because they refuse medical care often do lose custody of their other children whether the refusal is due to religious beliefs or not. They don’t often go to prison, but that involves an entirely different group of players with very different goals. Criminal courts and prisons punish people for their actions only if the people can be held responsible for their actions. CPS and family courts protect children from parental neglect and abuse even when that neglect/abuse is due to a factor such as mental illness or developmental disability that would excuse the parent from criminal responsibility.

Obviously punishment isn’t the goal, but it is unavoidable in removing a child for both the parents and child. And if it really is the psych it seems like there should be a way to sanction or punish him, an imperfect analogy would be removing a child to CPS custody because a coach is accused of molestation, protecting the child at a lot of collateral damage.

But yea I agree it is kind of pointless without more info.

How likely would it be that a psychologist would go along with some sketchy parents?