ICBioethics Blog 

Something is Wrong with the System…

Written by: Dr. Kathy Gennuso

Surely, some info’s missing from Justina Pelletier’s story. . .  something that would begin to vindicate the cast of characters who appeared to summarily trample parental rights, disregard informed consent, exclude an intellectually unimpaired adolescent from any voice in her own treatment, and favor a locked psychiatric ward (least restrictive environment?) for an individual diagnosed with a questionable, non life-threatening condition.

High-level professionals wouldn’t hurl the horrifying, far-reaching allegation of “medical child abuse” at parents without a full, unbiased investigation, ethics consult, and input from child’s other practitioners. If medical child abuse were suspected, wouldn’t it be directed at the medical health professionals or prestigious institution that previously diagnosed, treated, and ordered her surgeries/procedures? How did these parents abuse this child?

Furthermore, no 21st century mental health professionals would want to isolate teenagers from family, friends, and school for months on end, while constantly insisting that they have an effective treatment plan despite poor results. And no DCF and the court protective services would agree, would they?

Hmmm . . . is this just big-bad media sensationalizing and twisting another story? Something must be missing . . .

Fortunately, Justina can now tell her story and begin to heal — from the safety of home. However, much work needs to be done so that this situation never happens in America again. Patients have rights, which must be respected. Productive dialogues, not guardianships, are required.

It’s time to implement patient rights protections and not just talk about it. It’s the law, and within the law are checks and balances protecting the patient. It’s a healthcare facility’s obligation to make it happen!

Mitch GennusoComment