An experienced Cleveland medical malpractice attorney understands that many religions believe medical intervention is interfering in their God’s work. For this reason, they may decline treatment for injuries and/or illnesses. While this may be OK for adults to decide for themselves, as long as they are mentally competent to decide on such a matter, adults who decide against care for their children may be up against the law.
Medical Neglect: When Religion Is Considered
Imagine this scenario: A child enters an emergency room with a severe head trauma. The parents tell the doctors they do not want to have any medical treatment for their child because of religious beliefs. The doctors could save this child’s life, but don’t because the parents decline treatment. The child passes away a few hours later due to internal bleeding.
Is This Medical Neglect, or Is It Child Abuse?
The answer may surprise you. It’s neither.
Doctors are not at fault for not providing medical treatment to the child because the parents declined it as long as the parents are the child’s legal guardian. It is also not considered child abuse because the law does not consider declining medical treatment for religious reasons neglect.
Now, if the court intervened, they could have mandated medical treatment for the child. The doctor would have had to provide the treatment in this case despite the parents’ disapproval. If the parents were to flee with the child, the parents could find themselves charged with contempt of court.