Lansing Munchausen Syndrome Attorney
What is Munchausen Syndrome?
For many years in Michigan, parents were being accused of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy (MSBP). Munchausen is not a diagnosis of a child; it is an assessment of the behavior of a parent, with the thought being that the parent is seeking medical attention for a child that does not really have a medical need. The “diagnosis” of Munchausen Syndrome has been so discredited by psychologists that no credible professional would use the term. Yet it never seems to go away and is commonly used by CPS officials as a generic term accusing parents of seeking unnecessary medical treatment.
Today other terms are used when doctors are accusing the parent of seeking medical care for a child that does not need it. These terms include Pediatric Condition Falsification and simply Medical Child Abuse. It is important to understand that when these terms are being used or written into the child’s medical chart, the focus is on the parent. When doctors turn on parents, their first step is calling CPS. This is usually the first moment when the parents realize that they are being investigated for child abuse. When a parent is under investigation, they need the help of a good Munchausen Syndrome defense attorney.
When Munchausen Syndrome Concerns Go Wrong
“Actual” Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy is very uncommon, but accusations can arise simply because a doctor finds your case frustrating and annoying. When an illness is hard to diagnose or doesn’t respond to treatment, doctors may accuse you of MSBP rather than admitting their limitations. Thousands of diseases are unusual, rare, and hard to diagnose. When accusations of child abuse arise, it may seem like the entire medical community is against you, including the very doctors that you relied on for guidance and treatment. It is vital to choose a Munchausen Syndrome lawyer who has extensive experience asserting the rights of parents. The Lansing team at Cronkright Law is comfortable and skilled working with parents facing Munchausen allegations. The experience of our attorneys goes back more than two decades and we have successfully defended parents throughout Michigan.
Every parent wants to protect the health of their children. This involves taking them to the doctor when they are ill, advocating for the best treatment and attempting to figure out what the best treatment is. Sometimes, parents have difficulty working with doctors, nurses and other healthcare professionals. Sometimes the focus of the doctor turns and the parent becomes a suspect for child abuse or medical neglect. This can be a terrifying experience for parents and can result in CPS conducting an extensive investigation.
Most parents accused of Munchausen followed the direction of their doctors. We have seen numerous cases where parents agonized over the recommendations being made for surgical or medical treatment; only to have CPS come along and accuse them of over-medicating or over-treating their child. It is astonishing to see that when this happens, the treating physicians often join CPS in making accusations rather that supporting their treatment recommendations. This can be very frustrating for parents.
If you are facing accusations of MSBP, you need a skilled Lansing Munchausen Syndrome lawyer on your team right away. Contact Cronkright Law to schedule a consultation today!
How Munchausen Cases are Investigated
In Michigan, the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) has Child Protection doctors on retainer at two major hospitals (University of Michigan and DeVos) who help them evaluate Munchausen claims and other allegations of abuse. The process of a Munchausen investigation involves gathering up a comprehensive set of medical records for the child. A Child Protection Team pediatrician reviews the record and offers an opinion as to whether the parent is pursuing unnecessary care. This single opinion becomes the basis of either a criminal prosecution or a Petition filed in the family court.
It is really not possible to give a definitive list of “red flags” for MSBP since there is no real science behind the theory in the first place.
However, here are some things that CPS workers are trained to look for:
- A parent eager for extra medical tests
- A parent who shows an avid interest in the medical details of their child’s condition
- A child with an illness that doesn’t respond to treatment
- Unusual lab results or an odd collection of symptoms
- A parent who takes the child to several doctors for the same medical condition (doctor shopping)
- A parent who does not interact well with doctors and nurses
Most MSBP allegations are leveled at women. It is rare to have a father accused of this, but it is sometimes leveled at a couple.
Defending Munchausen Allegations in Michigan
It is possible for a criminal prosecution to result from a Munchausen allegation. However, it is more common for CPS to file a Petition in the family court. This is an attack on parental rights and seeks to make the child a ward of the court. The consequences to the parent and family can be devastating. Defending against the allegations requires an attorney with a significant amount of medical litigation experience. The first step for a parent is to find an attorney with the right combination of medical litigation knowledge, courtroom experience, and skill. The attorneys at Cronkright Law have extensive experience working with medical experts. We have successfully defended parents throughout Michigan accused of Munchausen and various other forms of medical abuse and neglect.
Contact our firm at (517) 325-0441 today to start exploring your legal options.