A doctor at Boston Children’s Hospital has arguably led a girl into a dangerous state of illness, with what people claim to be a harmful misdiagnosis. The subject matter of this case alleges a medical dispute over diagnoses; a consultation of a psychologist or psychiatrist convinces the state to take custody of the girl. Mitochondrial disease is a cellular condition where a person lacks much of the energy that is required for support and growth. The United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation reports that 90 percent of a person’s energy comes from mitochondria. When cells fail to provide enough energy, they are susceptible to injury and cell death. Diseases of the mitochondria often evoke damage to brain, heart, liver; muscle, and kidney; endocrine, and respiratory system cells.
Most have already heard about the child diagnosed with this condition, and who has been taken from her parents by the state. Some people are unaware of what rights were involved, and which were actually violated. Justina Pelletier risks death now because a doctor at Boston Children’s Hospital misjudged her health condition, and soon there afterward, she was diagnosed with somatoform disorder– a psychiatric illness–unrelated, and disregarding her health condition. Her parents were charged with medical child abuse and have been fighting the system for many, many months now.
National Center for Life and Liberty Attorney, David Gibbs, says ultimately, the decisions rest on the parents. The Supreme Court has declared and upheld the law where parents have the fundamental right in guiding and making the final decisions regarding upbringing. Gibbs says, this act by Boston medical staff, and the state, will cause a “spook” in parents who will now be concerned whether or not this arbitrary act could happen to their children. If parents are faced with a medical emergency, they will now have to second-guess a trip to the hospital, worried a doctor might harm their child with poor judgement or a misdiagnosis.
Doctors and social workers have tried to force their authority in the past, in ways that are in fact criminal. In 2009 and 2010, four children in England were taken into foster care for obesity-related reasons and as young as three years of age. Foster care and adoption writer, Carrie Craft, alleges several hundred-thousand children are currently within foster care. Many, some report, are unjustly there and are now in poorer living conditions than when they were with their families. In 2007 three social workers by the names of Shirley Morrison, Colleen Lasater, and Melinda Sneddon were sued for taking a couple’s son and placing him in foster care. In 2006, three judges from Denver’s 10th Circuit Court of Appeals said the social workers violated state law when taking the boy from his parents.
Patients have the right to determine which doctor to believe when there are mixed diagnoses, as was the case for Justina Pelletier and her parents. For many months, Pelletier was in Massachusetts state custody (though, she is a Connecticut resident) and has been neglected sufficient medical treatment since February 2013.
Cristy Balcells with Huffington Post references the Hippocratic Oath in the title of her article First, Do No Harm: How We Failed Justina Pelletier and Her Family. This oath is a personal oath taken by graduates of medical school. It is commonly believed to have been written by Hippocrates (the father of western medicine) or by one of his students. Though there are several variations of this oath, it begins by making a vow to all the healing gods and goddesses that the soon-to-be doctor promises to respect everyone in the practice as if they were his or her own kin; prescribes regimens for the good of his or her patients; never to do harm to anybody, and to always respect the confidentiality of his or her patients.
So the actual question would be regarding, not only malicious intent of the doctor and staff who decided to strip the child away from her parents, but a question of whether or not these individuals knew better, and chose to neglect his knowledge. The oath a doctor vows to keep should never be broken, else the doctor be stripped of his license. Boston Children’s Hospital now has a perceived obligation to terminate this practitioner. He, however, was not the only antagonist of this story. Gibbs further mentions the secret nature of this situation as being corrupt.
There was originally a gag order placed on the parents, but the child’s father refused to remain silent. “Our government should be operating in the sunshine.” Every concerned citizen should ask, why do we want doctors or government officials stepping in to make parenting decisions? Gibbs says he will always side with a good mom and dad opposed to some court, our social worker, government, or doctor who would punish parents for trying to speak in their child’s best interest. Pelletier is now allegedly in foster care, and the public can only hope her condition sustains long enough so that she can obtain professional care, and not by a doctor or shrink who would recklessly misdiagnose her; refute a previous diagnosis; involve the state, and ultimately, harm the very life of a patient.
Opinion By Lindsey Alexander
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