Utah physicians being sued after reporting parents to child services

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted March 20, 2006

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A Utah federal judge in February made a tentative decision to allow a lawsuit to go forward against the state Division of Child and Family Services officials and possibly several physicians who parents say attempted to get cancer treatment for their son against their wishes.

U.S. District Judge Paul Cassel indicated he was "on the fence" about dismissing claims against the Primary Children's Medical Center doctors, who in 2003, removed a small tumor from Parker Jensen's tongue that was diagnosed as Ewing's sarcoma. When the Jensens declined further medical treatment for their son, the doctors reported it as neglect to state officials. A juvenile judge ordered the state to take custody of the boy, but the case was dropped and the boy never left his home.

The Jensens sued in September 2005, accusing the doctors and DCFS officials of violating their constitutional right to decide medical treatment for their son. They allege that the doctors refused to do additional genetic testing.

Karra Porter, the Jensens' attorney, said that they are "thrilled" with the initial ruling.

The doctors deny the allegations, according to their attorney Andrew Morse. "They did what any doctor or state actor would do: to strongly recommend what gives the child the best chances," he said.

The doctors are obligated by law to report the parents' resistance if they suspect it puts the child at risk, Morse added.

Utah Dept. of Human Services spokeswoman Carol Sisco said, "Parker's health and well-being was always our main concern." The DCFS is under the umbrella of the Dept. of Human Services.

Cassell did not indicate when he would issue a final ruling.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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