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September 01, 2003

Von Munchausen Syndrome for Hospitals

Today, there was a significant update on a story that has been big here in Utah. It seems that the parents of a boy didn't agree with the diagnosis of cancer in their son, so they sought a second opinion. The hospital and doctor didn't think that was responsible, so they turned them in to the Utah Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS). The family was out of state, so the DCFS got a court order to take the child. The family found out and went into hiding. The DCFS, in a fit of pique, got the state to issue a felony warrant for kidnapping, and arrested the father.

Now we find out that the kid, far from being close to death as the doctor maintained, is seemingly hale and hearty. And the State now appears to be furiously backtracking, working out a settlement that allows the family to come out of hiding. This is a most interesting story.

While we do not have the full details, the information that has trickled out the past few weeks does not paint a very flattering picture of Primary Children's Medical Center, the DCFS, or the Utah Attorney General. The fact that the State is suddenly negotiating with the parents suggests they are well aware their butts are exposed. The main question is why the State and Hospital were so quick to take the child. Don't parents have the right to seek a second opinion?

When this is all said and done, I wouldn't want to be the doctor, hospital administrator, social worker, or judge who started it all. It makes one wonder about the attitudes and professionalism of those involved. It also makes one shudder to think what would have happened to the boy if the parents had not resisted.

When parents treat their kids as if they are deathly ill when they're not, it's called Von Munchausen syndrome. What is it called when hospitals do the same?

Posted by Captain Holly at September 1, 2003 12:00 PM | TrackBack
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