Medical neglect is defined as a parent or guardian's failure to provide adequate medical or dental care for a child. This is particularly applied to cases where medical care is needed to treat a specific injury or illness, and lack of that care seriously jeopardizes the child's health. This can also be applied to instances where the child is in need of psychiatric help or emotional counseling, and the parent or caregiver refuses to provide it.
Under Michigan law, medical neglect is considered to be a form of child abuse, and is therefore illegal. Parents in Michigan who are accused of medical neglect, or not providing their children with necessary medical care, can be charged with child abuse.
What Counts as Medical Neglect?
There are several situations that could be seen as medical neglect by law enforcement or CPS workers, that could result in charges against the parent. The list that follows is not complete, but will provide you with an idea of what kind of situations could result in accusations of medical neglect:
- refusing to financially support the treatment required for a child's acute illness, without a good reason.
- ignoring the recommended advice of a doctor with regards to a treatable or curable condition.
- failure to administer prescription medication to a child that has been prescribed by a doctor.
- choosing not to seek medical help for a severely ill child. This could involve a lethargic child with a fever above 103 degrees, or an unresponsive child who has lost consciousness.
- refusing to take a child to the emergency room when they have sustained a severe injury, like a broken bone, or deep laceration requiring stitches.
There are certainly other situations that CPS or doctors could claim are medical neglect. But these should cover the basics, and give you an idea of what potential scenarios could end in medical neglect charges.
Medical Neglect in Michigan
Recently, claims of medical abuse in Michigan have become more common. This isn't because medical neglect is necessarily more common, but rather because doctors are more likely to report a parent who doesn't comply with their opinion.
This is a tragedy, and has caused a great deal of grief and fear for many parents around the state. Because in almost every one of these cases, the parents have done nothing wrong. For the majority of them, they have simply received unsatisfactory answers from one doctor, and have sought the opinion of a second medical professional.
But when faced with two conflicting opinions, parents can obviously only choose one. And so the doctor whose opinion they do not choose to follow, can report them for medical neglect of their child. This essentially means that, regardless of how hard they try to find answers to their child's medical problems, and despite the fact that they are going from specialist to specialist, desperately trying to care for their child, it only takes one doctor to make an allegation of medical neglect, and suddenly they have CPS at their door.
This is compounded by the fact that, just a few years ago, a task force created by the governor to assess medical child abuse here in Michigan, released a study that labeled the warning signs of medical child abuse. Signs that doctors were encouraged to watch for included, "highly attentive parents" who are "unusually reluctant to leave his/her child’s side." Another issue was parents who "demand a second and third opinion." Sadly, these things also describe loving, concerned parents who are struggling to find answers to complex medical problems afflicting their children.
Being accused of medical neglect of your child, especially when you've done nothing wrong and just want to take care of an unwell child, is heartbreaking. It is no different from being accused of any other crime that you didn't commit. But the Kronzek & Cronkright team have decades of experience fighting this self-serving system, and we can defend you against these trumped-up allegations and false claims. You don't have to do this alone.
Medical Neglect Charges
In Michigan, medical neglect is usually reported by medical personnel and hospital workers, and results in a neglect petition being filed in family court by CPS. It is rarely an accusation investigated by the police, but rather, is dealt with by agency workers from Children’s Protective Services.
After CPS files an abuse / neglect petition in family court, the court will often allow the state to take temporary custody of the children until a trial can determine if they are truly the victims of neglect. This is called Temporary Jurisdiction, and is very hard for families, as the process can take months.
Sometimes CPS will attempt to terminate your parental rights. Sometimes they will allow children to return to their parent's custody, but only when those parents are willing to jump through all of the hoops that CPS sets in place for them. Like performing circus ponies, they will be set innumerable tasks to perform, which they will later be judged on by agency workers and the court.
This can be a very frustrating and disheartening time, when your family is torn apart, your children are in someone else's care, and you are being falsely accused by the state of neglecting your child's medical needs. What you need now, is a tenacious and hard working attorney on your team. Call Kronzek & Cronkright today. We will fight furiously for your family, and defend you against the lies and false allegations of the state. We are here for you, and we can help.