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Doctor Sued Over Misdiagnosing Child Abuse


One doctor is being sued by families in two different states after parents claim she wrongfully misdiagnosed their children as abused. She faces a lawsuit in Wisconsin and Alaska. She now practices medicine in Florida after resigning her positions in those states amid misconduct allegations filed by former coworkers.

‘This is a complex lawsuit because it mixes several different types of torts. While the employee complaints are outside the scope of our practice and this article, there are two tort lawsuits against this doctor that are actionable. Firstly, the doctor is accused of medical malpractice. However, she is also accused of defamation. And because her opinion was important in child protection cases, she cost some families custody of their children.

The doctor’s current position in Florida allows her to “work closely” with child protective services and render judgments on whether or not parents are abusing their children. The program works closely with law enforcement who use these opinions to pursue cases. She was placed on administrative leave and both of her former positions.

These diagnoses have been used to remove children from their parents’ custody, pursue murder charges in some cases, and some of her recommendations were rejected by the criminal justice system.

One family has recovered their children but now owes $55,000 to a hospital for intentionally injuring their children. They maintain that the child had a traumatic birth which accounts for their current disabilities.

Good faith immunity in child abuse cases

 Torts involving doctors are generally filed under a theory of medical malpractice—not defamation. That is the case with these lawsuits as well. Most states make it impossible to sue anyone who makes a good-faith report of child abuse to the government. However, doctors are in a unique position to diagnose a child with abuse. Does that mean it qualifies as medical malpractice and if so, is the medical malpractice actionable?

Pursuing these lawsuits has remained elusive for parents who have had children misdiagnosed as being abused. The subspecialty involved in diagnosing child abuse is non-rigorous and non-scientific according to researchers and at minimum, there is a good deal of controversy concerning forensic abuse diagnoses.

Meanwhile, the doctor indicated on her application to her new Florida post that she had never faced disciplinary action while in Wisconsin or Alaska. However, her privileges to practice medicine were revoked as part of a leave of absence. However, much of her settlement with the University is sealed as part of her severance package.

In her two former posts, she leaves behind a litany of lawsuits, appeals, and defendants convicted on her expert testimony alone. There are continued questions as to whether or not prosecutors suppressed evidence concerning her departure while her testimony was being used to convict defendants with other doctors reporting they felt pressured to confirm the doctor’s diagnosis. If so, these convictions could be vacated and the lawsuits may move forward.

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Payer Law represents the interests of those who have been injured due to the negligence of another party. Call our Miami personal injury lawyers today to schedule a free consultation and we can begin preparing your case immediately.


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