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Are hospitals overstepping their bounds?

This is a very long story, and if you try to access it more than once, it tries to get you to subscribe to the Boston Globe to read it.  I've found closing and reopening it through a link gets around the subscription pop up.  You should be able to read it without paying for it:


Short version - Children's hospital in Boston has forcibly severed parental rights of patients' parents because the hospital disagreed with the diagnosis they received from their primary doctor.  The article mentions several cases, but focuses on one where a fresh out of med school doctor overrode their years' long specialist, and the hospital refused to allow their regular doctors to examine their daughter or consult.  There are a lot of details, so really better to read it than try to guess from the headline - you aren't safe to assume anything from the first paragraph.

Answer Question

Asked by NotPanicking at 12:10 PM on Dec. 15, 2013 in Politics & Current Events

Level 51 (421,174 Credits)
Answers (9)
  • I'm really conflicted upon reading the entire article.

    Overall, I do think hospitals that do this are overstepping. In this specific case, however, some red flags popped up that would give me pause. First, her primary physician didn't do the most basic testing to confirm mitochondrial disease which is a complex diagnosis at best. Second, there had been prior concern from others that the parents doc shopped. Third, the colon surgery they did on her was significant.

    That said, parents should never be denied the option to move their child from one hospital to another unless the child is so physically unstable as to pose a health risk. Nor should parents be denied a second option simply because the hospital says they can't have one. These are basic patient rights and parents, as the voice of their children, have every right to expect that those requests will be honored. (con't)

    Answer by Brawn at 12:45 PM on Dec. 15, 2013

  • I've worked in healthcare more years than I care to mention and I have definitely met parents who are so manipulative that they significantly hinder the care of their children. In some ways, they're much more difficult to handle than parents who are obviously negligent because they have been gaming the healthcare system for years. They tend to be educated, savvy and strong willed. They develop their own treatment plans and strongly resist any deviation from those. The point in the article where the nurses and doctors state that the daughter's symptoms increase in severity in the presence of her mother is telling.

    I think though that Children's was, in this case, out of bounds. To place this child in the psych ward in the manner that they did was malpractice, in my opinion. It appears that they were no better than the parents they claim to be protecting her from. The way they relocated her (con't)

    Answer by Brawn at 12:50 PM on Dec. 15, 2013

  • seemed much less a way to treat her issues than an obvious power shove to indicate to the parents that they were in control. In the meantime, this poor kid is being pulled to and fro.

    Hospitals are going to have to determine ways to deal with these issues that is a bit more subtle and effective and much less power driven. Ultimately, parents should have the final word on the treatment of their children and hospitals will need to have a much more concise system of checks and balances in place

    Answer by Brawn at 12:53 PM on Dec. 15, 2013

  • I found it confusing.
    But I do think hospitals are sometimes out of control

    Answer by Dardenella at 1:08 PM on Dec. 15, 2013

  • I'm going to have to agree with everything Brawn said. I have worked for a children's hospital. There are a ton of red flags here that did need to be addressed. However, I think the hospital went about it completely the wrong way. I also think parents have the right to request transfer for their child. Especially if much of the child's care had been at another hospital (in this case Tufts).

    Answer by anime_mom619 at 1:35 PM on Dec. 15, 2013

  • I agree there were a few things mentioned that strike me as red flags about the girl's case (doctor shopping, no definitive diagnosis, just the doctor saying it seemed that way). But I also think there were some MAJOR red flags from the hospital, too - specifically, the outright refusal to allow a second opinion. WHY would you not allow a second opinion, if you're so confident in your diagnosis of the situation? Particularly in this case, it seems to a second opinion could have helped the hospital's case, if in fact the parents were in the wrong. The total refusal makes me think this was purely a power play and they wanted to ensure that no one could prove them wrong until the girl was no longer in her parents custody.

    I feel it is my right, whether as a patient or as the mother of one, to get a second opinion on any diagnosis, if I choose. No one should be able to stop me from that.

    Answer by wendythewriter at 1:41 PM on Dec. 15, 2013

  • That is a highly disturbing article.

    Answer by Rosehawk at 7:35 PM on Dec. 15, 2013

  • As a psychiatric health care provider I do not find the notes telling when they symptoms are relieved when mother is not in the room. I can say with absolute authority that staff writes what will back them up. I have had physicians and nurses write things so not true about the nature of parents that it is disturbing. If a parent is concerned and questions a doctor then the parent is noted in the chart as agitated. I could not see how the story ended because in Part two I had to purchase the rest of the story. But it would seem reasonable for parents to request a transfer of hospitals or at least allow for second opinions. It is crazy for hospitals to think only their opinion matters. It is arrogant and it is deadly. I don't give a damn if it is Harvard, Yale or some small hospital. No one should have that authority by themselves.

    Answer by Anonymous at 11:16 AM on Dec. 17, 2013

  • Also the first rule is prove that it isn't medical. Which means undergoing all the procedures to see if they can rule it out. They didn't do that. They violated the rule of ruling out every medical possibility before assuming it was a mental health issue. It would be unlikely both parents were complicit in medical abuse. I am an extremely educated mother who has knowledge of the medical field. Yes, I also contribute to my daughter's treatment plans. Because my input is valuable. I have been treated like I was a bitch and called one by several doctors. I have a daughter with chronic issues as well. Let me tell you, despite being a medical provider, it doesn't make it easier. I have been in similar shoes. I was always proven right by tests but I had to fight to get those tests done. Justina's doctors might be right but first allow for other opinions.

    Answer by Anonymous at 11:21 AM on Dec. 17, 2013

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