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Hospital gets custody in medical child abuse case

Connecticut families that have children with medical issues may be interested in an unusual case involving an instance of suspected "medical child abuse." A Connecticut family brought their 15-year-old daughter to Boston Children's Hospital in order to manage a previously diagnosed mitochondrial disease. The child could barely walk or eat. The specialist who diagnosed her, the chief of metabolism at Tufts Medical Center, recommended that she be seen at the Children's Hospital because the gastroenterologist in charge of her care had recently started working there.

However, attending physicians at Boston Children's Hospital felt strongly that the girl's symptoms were psychiatric in nature, and they believed her parents had been stopping her from receiving the care she needed. The family disagreed and said that they would take their daughter back to Tufts. At this point, the hospital reported suspected medical child abuse to the state of Connecticut. The Children's Hospital was awarded emergency child custody. The girl remained in hospital custody for 10 months. She has been housed in a juvenile psychiatric ward.

The family attempted to regain custody in December as they hoped to have their daughter home for Christmas. The Boston juvenile court denied them custody. However, the case will be reexamined by an investigator as the different sides of the case have vastly different explanations for the daughter's condition and different ideas of what constitutes the best interests of the child. The daughter remains in custody of the state though she is still staying at the hospital.

This nontraditional custody battle may be a difficult one for families to handle on their own. The family may wish to hire experienced representation as the case goes forward post-reexamination.

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

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