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Another hospital calls CPS on parents who question routine medical procedures

May 16, 2012 - Andrea Johnson
More hospitals seem to need a refresher course on parental rights.

The Sacramento Bee reports that a California couple had Child Protective Services called on them last month when they disagreed with medical personnel at Mercy Hospital in Folsom, Calif., about routine aspects of the baby's care. The parents disagreed with staff about when to give their newborn son his first bath and whether he should be given Vitamin K in a shot or liquid form. They also didn't want the baby's blood drawn. The couple checked him out against medical advice and the hospital called CPS to report the baby was in possible danger. The kicker is that the father of the child, Dr. Daniel Cooper, is a medical doctor and was the hospital's former chief of staff. If anyone was qualified to take care of a newborn and handle any complications that might arise, I would think it would be a doctor.

According to the Bee, the mother, Simone Morin, tried to have a home birth but went to the hospital on April 11 at her husband's insistence when the baby showed signs of stress. According to the couple, the delivery went well and baby Ivan was healthy, but the trouble started when the doctor assigned to Morin's care entered her room after the birth and criticized her decision to have a vaginal delivery instead of a Caesarean section. Morin had required a C-section to have her first child, a 5-year-old daughter, and many doctors say that a C-section is needed for subsequent deliveries, though not everyone agrees that it's always necessary, particularly when the mother is healthy.

Morin and Cooper further clashed with medical staff over when to give baby Ivan his first bath and whether the baby should be given Vitamin K in an injection, as medical staff wanted, or liquid form, as his parents had decided. They clashed again when the parents refused to allow medical staff to draw blood from the baby. Cooper and Morin said their disagreements with staff were always calm and there was never any yelling or any other behavior that would disrupt the ward.

After several hours of disagreements with the medical staff, Cooper and Morin decided to take their baby home against medical advice. When Cooper returned with the car seat, he discovered the hospital staff had called CPS to report the baby was in possible danger. They left the hospital together and have had to contend with a CPS investigation. Cooper and Morin have filed a complaint against the hospital with the Joint Commission, a not-for-profit organization that accredits and certifies health care programs in the United States, according to the Sacramento Bee.

This whole dispute echoes the story I blogged about last month about Scott and Jodi Ferris, the Pennsylvania couple that clashed with Hershey Medical Center in June 2010 after they questioned the necessity of the Hepatitis B shot and the Vitamin K injection. The hospital took emergency custody of the baby and the couple didn't get her back until a family court hearing the following day. Like Simone Morin, Jodi Ferris had attempted a home birth. Jodi Ferris went to the hospital at the advice of her midwife when she went into premature labor The Ferrises are suing the hospital with the help of the Home School Legal Defense Association.

These aren't the only cases of this kind I've read about either. In 2010, the state of Illinois removed baby Ruth from Ryan and Melissa Light's custody after Melissa gave birth at home. Ruth was born breech and suffered a slight shoulder injury, though she was otherwise healthy. The hospital called CPS when the parents took Ruth to the emergency room to be checked out. They alleged child endangerment because Melissa had a home birth instead of the recommended C-section because the baby was breech. Ruth was later returned to her parents, though not without much drama.

The common denominators in these cases seem to be home birth or attempted home birth as well as the parents questioning medical care that most parents agree to without a bat of an eyelash. However, state laws allow the parents to question medical decisions and to make decisions for their children, provided that there is no serious jeopardy. None of these children appear to have been in any danger, yet medical staff called the authorities anyway.

In the most recent case, I'd guess that the hospital staff thought Cooper and Morin were a pain in the rear and called CPS in retaliation. It may also be a hospital policy to call CPS automatically if the parents have checked the child out against medical advice. But what possible reason could they cite for saying the child was endangered when his father was a practicing doctor?

These cases have implications for parents, obviously, but also for anyone who is concerned about personal freedoms. I hope that the parents' complaints will help hospitals reconsider their policies.


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