Teenage girl held in hospital custody for 10 months

On behalf of The Walters Law Group, Ltd. posted in Child Custody on Thursday, January 2, 2014.

Chicago residents may be interested in an unusual case involving a teenage girl who has been held against her parents’ wishes in a children’s psychiatric unit for the past ten months. The child custody case began when the 15-year-old girl was taken to Boston Children’s Hospital in February with symptoms that were supposedly linked to a mitochondrial disease. She had been diagnosed with the disease by a doctor at Tufts Medical Center.

The girl spent three days at Boston Children’s Hospital. During that time, doctors grew suspicious of the mitochondrial disease diagnosis and instead began to believe that the girl’s symptoms were actually the result of a psychiatric disorder. They also suspected that the girl’s parents had denied her necessary psychiatric care.

When doctors voiced their concerns, the family threatened to take the girl back to Tufts. However, Boston Children’s doctors called the state and reported their concerns about medical child abuse. The hospital then took the girl into custody and has kept her in a children’s psychiatric unit for the past 10 months while the parents have been seeking her release. On Dec. 20, a judge ruled that the girl should stay in the hospital’s custody, but also appointed an independent guardian to review the case.

Children’s health officials often have a fine line to walk in protecting children. They have a responsibility to protect a child’s health and an obligation to respect parental rights. Parents who believe their rights have been violated may wish to pursue legal means to rectify the situation. Custody cases when abuse is suspected can be complicated. A family law attorney could consult with parents as to various courses of action that may be available.

Source: FOX News, “Family battles hospital for custody of daughter in controversial ‘medical child abuse’ case“, December 23, 2013