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Justina Pelletier speaks on lawsuit against Boston Children’s Hospital

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BOSTON--The West Hartford teen who was separated from her family for 18 months says she hopes Boston Children's Hospital gets what it deserves.

Justina Pelletier, now 17, is suing the hospital and four doctors for violations of their civil rights.

"I'm very angry and I just don't understand how this happened," Justina said.  "And I just really don't want this to happen ever again to any other family."

Back in February 2013, the hospital advised the Department of Children and Families in Massachusetts to take custody of Justina when her parents wanted to take her to another medical facility.

They claim doctors refused to accept Justina's previous diagnosis of mitochondrial disease, and treated her instead for psychological problems. She was held against her and her family's will at the hospital for 16 months before she returned home to Connecticut in June 2014.

After finally coming home, Justina remains diagnosed with mitochondrial disease.

Boston Children's Hospital issued a statement saying it looks forward to the opportunity to vigorously defend the care it provided for Justina. Here's the statement:

Boston Children’s Hospital welcomes the opportunity to vigorously defend the medical care it provided to Justina Pelletier. We are committed to the best interests of our patients’ health and well-being, according to the high standards we follow for every patient placed in our care. Out of respect for the patient’s privacy and the ongoing legal process, Boston Children’s is unable to provide further comment about the specific issues of this case at this time.

Regarding general questions about religious and education services, Boston Children’s offers patients and families access to a broad complement of services that are outlined at http://www.childrenshospital.org/patient-resources/family-resources. Specifically, patients and their families have access to Boston Children’s multi-faith chaplaincy, which offers spiritual support 24 hours a day to people of all traditions and those with no religious affiliation to assist and support our patients and their families.  Boston Children’s also offers educational tutoring for all eligible patients, with a full time teacher on staff to provide ongoing education as appropriate for each individual patient.

Boston Children’s and its providers are required by state law to report cases of suspected child maltreatment to the Department of Children and Families (DCF). DCF is solely responsible for investigating reports of suspected child maltreatment and for deciding whether to go to court to request temporary custody of a child.  The Hospital never decides who has custody of a child in any case of alleged child maltreatment. The Hospital is not the custodian or the legal guardian of the patients in its care, nor is it affiliated with any state agency. Boston Children’s does not keep patients in its care against the direction of the custodial guardian.

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