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Justina Pelletier is a teenager who was taken away from her parents unnecessarily, forced into psychiatric care and spent nine months in a locked psychiatric ward.  This situation is a parent’s worst nightmare.  Any parent would be outraged and horrified if this happened to their child.  This is clearly a case of kidnapping, rather than acting in the best interest of a minor. 

Justina Pelletier was diagnosed a few years ago with mitochondrial disease, a rare condition that prevents cells in the body from producing energy.   She was getting treatment from Dr. Mark Korson, a Tufts Medical Center specialist.  In February 2013 her health declined, so Dr. Korson sent her to see a gastrointestinal specialist he knew at Boston Children’s Hospital (BCH).  Justina never got to see that specialist. 

Instead, the psychiatry department took over.  Doctors at BCH disagreed with Dr. Korson’s diagnosis.  They said she didn’t have mitochondrial disease and diagnosed her with “somatoform disorder.”  Justina’s parents resisted giving their daughter mental health treatment and her father asked for her to be discharged.  Instead, hospital security blocked the exits.  

If that wasn’t bad enough, the hospital then charged the parents with medical child abuse and petitioned the state for custody.  The complaint went to the Department of Children and Families (DCF) and within twenty-four hours, Judge Joseph Johnston gave custody of Justina to the state of Massachussetts and ordered her to stay at BCH.  

One would think things couldn’t get any worse but it did.  The judge then put a gag order on the case.  Imagine your fourteen year old daughter being put in a psych ward without your approval and not being able to talk about it under threat of imprisonment!  In this day and age this is truly insane! 

While Justina Pelletier was in the psych ward at BCH, her health deteriorated markedly.  Her parents were only allowed very limited contact with their daughter.  They heavily protested that she was taken off her medications for mitochondrial disease, but BCH insisted those meds were unnecessary because she had a “mental disorder” instead.  They continually pushed for her release with no success.  Eventually, Justina’s father was alarmed enough at the deterioration of his daughter’s physical condition that he went public despite the gag order.  

It is a good thing that he did, because a huge public outcry resulted.  Massachussetts Child Protective Services stated that they were actively working on returning her to Tufts for care.  The Massachussetts Department of Health called for a full investigation.  Finally someone was listening, but there are several points in this case that must be addressed so that any parent will be informed and aware. 

First of all, the allegation of “medical child abuse” is a ridiculous claim.  How can Justina’s parents be charged with such a thing when there is no agreement on what her condition is?  This is a hospital exercising ‘my way or the highway’ and they have no right to do that.  Justina’s parents did nothing wrong.    Justina’s parents did what their doctor told them.  They followed Dr. Korson’s instructions for treatment for about three years.  They even brought Justina to BCH upon his recommendation.  

Dr. Korson is not some quack but a board certified licensed metabolic/genetics specialist.  The parents had every right to question BCH’s diagnosis, especially since Justina’s health had generally been improving over those three years.  At the very least, the doctors at BCH should have disputed the diagnosis and treatment with Dr. Korson.  Instead, they would not even communicate with Dr. Korson and made the parents their target. 

Justina’s parents also had the right to get a second opinion.  They are her parents and they have rights in making decisions regarding what is best for their daughter.   Justina had no prior mental health history, so how is it that BCH could commit her so quickly?  This wasn’t a case of the patient being a danger to herself or others.  This is a dispute over a medical diagnosis and a psychiatric diagnosis.  What right did BCH have to take over authority regarding her health and welfare? 

What makes this case truly outrageous is the diagnosis that the BCH doctors gave Justina Pelletier.  They claim she has “somatic symptom disorder,” formerly known as “somatoform disorder.”  This basically means a person has physical symptoms which cannot be explained fully by a general medical condition.  Since it is not easily diagnosed like diabetes, psychiatry manipulates medicine by suggesting “it’s all in your head.”  

The point is that “somatic symptom disorder” is just a term taking what can’t be precisely explained medically and making it into a psychiatric condition.  This is incredibly convenient for psychiatry as they have no medical tests of their own to diagnose anything.  This diagnosis and any other psychiatric diagnosis are purely based on opinions of symptoms without any scientific basis.   They themselves can’t prove if any “mental disorder” exists with a medical test, yet it seems they may have disputed whether mitochondrial disease exists! 

The other point of concern in this case is the lack of impartiality in the court system.  Within twenty-four hours, Judge Joseph Johnston swiftly moved to have Justina stay at BCH and put a gag order on the case.  That certainly doesn’t sound like any sort of hearing was allowed where both sides could present their case.   It only shows that Judge Johnston was partial to BCH and he wanted it to avoid any bad publicity, so he imposed a gag order so that the hospital was protected.  He certainly didn’t have Justina’s health and welfare in mind.  Her parents did, but they were stripped of their rights to protect her. 

Considering BCH can make a lot of money on every child that is court-ordered to stay, there is quite a conflict of interest here.  The DCF works closely with BCH as they do not have any medical expertise. When BCH files a medical abuse claim with the DCF, how is it impartial that they look right back at BCH for advice?   This is like a judge sending convicted criminals to a prison he owns except a judge would get disbarred and this network apparently has free reign. 

Finally, Justina would still be sitting in a psych ward had her father not violated the gag order and followed by public outcry.  Be aware that this could happen to any child though it shouldn’t happen ever to anyone.  Recognize that every parent and child have rights and those rights cannot be ignored.  Be aware that psychiatry may not agree with you since they have already kidnapped one child that we know of. 

June 10, Daily News Reported: “Connecticut teen Justina Pelletier has been in Massachusetts state custody for 16 months — ever since doctors at a Boston hospital accused her parents of abuse. In a new video, the 15-year-old begs her judge to let her go home. Last week, the state’s Department of Children and Families also asked the judge to return the girl to her parents.”

Justina’s Video plea to go home: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=451918311612093&set=vb.253343311469595&type=2&theater

 

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/justina-pelletier-begs-home-article-1.1823552#ixzz34L7lk5Op

http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2014/03/27/justina_pelletier_ruling_boston_children_s_hospital_and_judge_perform_parent.html 

http://www.madinamerica.com/2014/03/discussion-justina-pelletier-boston-childrens-hospital/