Doctors must put needs of child before relationship with parents, judge rules

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: (Published 20 November 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e7901
  1. Clare Dyer
  1. 1BMJ

A girl with asthma spent years undergoing unnecessary, harmful, and potentially lethal treatment because doctors trusted her parents too much, a High Court judge in London has found. Her condition immediately improved when she was removed from her family.

In what could come to be seen as a landmark judgment, the judge said, “The preservation of a working relationship with parents cannot take precedence over the interests of a child.”

The 9 year old, referred to only as “J,” was admitted to hospital more than 50 times between 2005 and 2011, once for a three month stay, and 22 times by ambulance at night. She was subjected to multiple treatments, four of them unlicensed for children, including methotrexate, which can cause renal and liver damage and suppression of bone marrow.

Ever since she was under 12 months old “she had been under continuous medical care, and her condition had baffled and defeated …

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