Thursday, September 4, 2014

Parental Rights versus Medical Expertise

When do parental rights trump the advice of medical professionals and vice versa? From the decision not to vaccinate children to refusing drug intervention for a sick child on religious grounds, we have seen multiple headlines in which the notion of who knows best and who has the legal right to make such a determination has been debated. There is now another story developing with the same questions at play and while the events are occurring overseas, the details have parents in the United States talking as well.

Five-year-old Ashya King, who is battling brain cancer, was removed from a Southampton Hospital in England by his parents recently as they were frustrated that the hospital not would allow them to seek proton beam treatment for their son. Brett and Naghmeh King took off for Spain in hopes of selling a home they have there and pursuing alternate treatments for their son. But, their faces were soon recognized by hotel employees and they were arrested.

The couple waited in a Spanish prison several days before a prosecutor in London decided to drop the charges and they were released. The Kings have been reunited with their son, but officials still will not allow the boy to leave the hospital. He remains in a hospital bed with armed guards.

The Kings insist they have done nothing wrong and simply want the opportunity to pursue a treatment that they have researched extensively and believe will benefit their son. The government in the United Kingdom counters that to remove the boy from his established medical care is harmful and constitutes neglect or even abuse on the part of the Kings.

Unfortunately, there are other instances in which medical providers not only disagree with family members on a course of treatment, but wrongfully diagnose a patient and then proceed with measures that exacerbate an illness or cause death. When this happens, patients and their families must be afforded their legal recourse and the personal injury attorneys at Bertolino LLP can help.

If you or a loved one has been affected by the consequences of a wrong diagnosis, please contact our offices today. We can help. (continued on next page)

What do you think of the situation in the United Kingdom with the King family? Is the legal system overstepping its bounds by demanding the boy stay in the hospital, or is this the right approach to take in order to protect the child’s health?

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