|Justina and her parents.|
As a child, Justina Pelletier had been diagnosed with something nurses learn about, but few of us have seen. Mitochondrial disorder is quite real, and can cause a number of potential symptoms. Despite this, Justina was living with her parents and functioning well as a normal fifteen year old girl. Ten months ago, Justina got the flu and her parents took her to the Emergency Room at Boston Children's Hospital. During this visit, Justina was seen by a different team of physicians than the team who normally cares for her disorder. After examining her, the physicians disagreed with the diagnosis, and called Division of Children's Services. The police came and escorted the parents from the hospital. Then, against the will of both the parents and the fifteen year old patient, she was forcibly admitted to the hospital with the provisional diagnosis of somatoform disorder. Somatoform disorder is a mental disorder, but is not life threatening and can certainly be treated on an outpatient basis. A team of physicians who meet a child on one visit probably can't make such a diagnosis from one meeting.
Justina was then held against her will in the hospital for almost ten months. (She remains in custody and there is a gag order in this case) Her parents have been permitted very limited visitation with her, in the neighborhood of once a week for an hour or so. During this time Justina communicated with them by sending notes on folded origami papers.
In nursing, we are taught that a child deserves and is required by law to have the least restrictive environment possible in order to receive needed medical or psychiatric care. Why did the hospital take a child who was functioning as a normal teen with her parents, and place her in a severely restricted environment for an unproven, and non-lifethreatening affliction ? Did the hospital and those caring for her consider the potential damage being done to the teen by abruptly separating her from her parents ? Did they consider not only the potential for future Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for this child following nine months of what could easily be called kidnapping, if not false imprisonment ? What will happen to this young woman in the future when she probably avoids authority figures of all types, because they have acted so inappropriately ? How much money would you, as a jury member, award this young woman and her family for the year in which Boston Children's Hospital kidnapped her from her parents ?
The inmates are running the asylum, folks. This isn't a case where a young woman needs urgent cancer treatment in order to keep her alive, and her parents are refusing it on some type of religious grounds.. The sad part is that children who really need to be seen in an ER might not get there, because their parents fear their being kidnapped by any one of the Children's Hospitals dotted across the US, who feel they know more about children than do the parents who love them.
I suppose the wait for an ER visit will be 30 hours or more as Obamacare is implemented, and we can hope that physicians and hospitals are too busy in the future for such nonsense.
The expert on a child is usually his parent. They may not know all the medical jargon, but most of them, regardless of their education are excellent historians of their child's histories and symptomatology. They know when something is wrong. Unless the parent is abusive or absolutely insane, perhaps the parent ought to be the authority on the child. Just a thought. I know it's probably heresy.
Just in case you think this is a rarity, the same thing happened to a friend of mine at Denver's Children's Hospital. Two of her six children were "impounded" there, running up a bill of more than two million dollars. They too were blocked from seeing them, or knowing anything about their condition, let alone having input with regard to treatment. Sounds like the Gestapo runs such hospitals to me.
UPDATE: Several sources indicate that while Justina has been hospitalized, her physical condition has deteriorated. During her hospitalization for the supposed "somatiform disorder", she has no longer been treated for her original diagnosis of mitochondrial disorder. One program states that she is no longer able to walk. Since mitochondrial disorder is a degenerative disorder, and time is of the essence, perhaps the diagnosis of mitochondrial disorder should be revisited and this young woman should be released to her family. Her family remains under a gag order and is unable to provide interviews or talk about the condition of their daughter.
IMPORTANT UPDATE: From Chloe Blue of Boston:
CALLING ALL LOCALS - PLEASE Attend this rally for Justina!
Show Support for Justina and her Family, tomorrow, THURSDAY December 12th 9am-1pm
This in the FINAL COURTDATE!!!
9am - 1PM
Suffolk Probate And Family Court
24 New Chardon Street, Boston MA
Boston, Massachusetts 02114