Family battles hospital for custody of daughter in controversial ‘medical child abuse’ case

A family from West Hartford, CT is engaged in a controversial battle to bring their daughter - who has spent the last 10 months in state custody at  Boston Children’s Hospital - home for Christmas, the Boston Globe reported.

In a two-part series published by the Boston Globe last week, the paper reported that the family’s saga began in February, after Linda and Lou Pelletier brought their 15-year-old daughter Justina to Boston Children’s Hospital. The family said Justina was suffering severe symptoms from a previously diagnosed mitochondrial disease and was barely able to walk or eat.

In the past, Justina had received treatment for her disease from Dr. Mark Korson, the chief of metabolism at Tufts Medical Center. He sent the family to Boston Children’s Hospital because Justina’s gastroenterologist had recently moved there.

However, after three days, doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital began to suspect that Justina’s problems were actually psychiatric – and that Justina’s parents had been blocking her from receiving the mental health care she needed.

When the Pelletier’s threatened to take Justina back to Tufts Medical Center, the physicians at Boston Children’s Hospital reported their suspicions of medical child abuse to the state. Justina was taken into emergency custody by the hospital where she has remained for the past 10 months – primarily in a children’s psychiatric ward.

On Friday, the Pelletier's went to juvenile court in Boston, hoping to regain custody of Justina before Christmas, according to the Boston Globe. To their disappointment, the judge ordered that Justina remain in state custody, but appointed a court investigator to reexamine the case.

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