Oregon DHS and CARES NW
A Relationship Against The Best Interest of Families Raising Children With Special Needs

Family Rights Foundation wishes to express concern regarding the professional relationship shared by CARES NW and Oregon DHS. We believe this relationship should be examined under great legal and ethical scrutiny. CARES NW is the leading forensic office for identifying child abuse. CARES NW may be equipped to do good work in cases of broken bones and child sex abuse, but they are poorly equipped to evaluate medical child abuse. Within the medical field there are general physicians that treat general conditions, and specialists that address specific concerns such as heart defects, epilepsy, genetic abnormalities, etc. This is the accepted standard within medical community, and DHS subverts this process by using inferior general doctors to arrive at medical conclusions that do not conform to any best practice standard recognized by specialists that would otherwise manage these specific conditions.

To provide one example of the medical errors that are commonplace with CARES NW within these complex medical cases, we share the following details within an alleged medical abuse case pending before Multnomah County Court: the CARES NW stated that an adolescent was subject to medical child abuse dating back to when the child was a toddler, as evidenced by treatment for diabetes. The CARES NW doctor simply confirmed that this child had been briefly treated for diabetes. The CARES NW doctor failed to investigate the records within their possession, as they would have showed the child had documented high blood at the doctors, at the hospital, and that the child was under the care of a pediatric endocrinologist who diagnosed this condition; therefore the parent did not fabricate this important medical history. Further testing showed the child did not have diabetes, and it was explained to the parent that sometimes normal childhood viruses can cause disruptions in blood sugar levels within young children. The child was no longer treated as diabetic, nor presented as diabetic. This in no way represented medical child abuse.

It is essential that parents raising children can safely access medical care without fears of being held responsible for the actions of the treating physicians. Parents do not diagnose their children. Parents do not order tests for their children. Parents do not prescribe medications for their children. Parents do not set treatment plans for their children. Instead, parents work with doctors they trust to provide medical care for their children. Holding parents responsible when medical mistakes occur is asinine. Further, doing so sidesteps the ethical and legal responsibilities that continue to be held by physicians for the medical care that they render or fail to render.

Medical errors are the 3rd leading cause of death in the United States. The reality is that medical mistakes commonly happen. 80% of all people taking a medication have to discontinue it at some point due to adverse effects. Who is at fault when these mistakes occur? Speaking generally, we would say that no one is. Mistakes, unless due to gross negligence, are simply part of practicing medicine and/or receiving medical care, the courts concur. Oregon DHS seems to believe differently, so doctors are given the choice of assuming liability for medical errors or pointing the finger at the parent.

Pitting parents and doctors against each other creates a predictable scenario that plays out time and again. Medical specialists are affiliated with hospitals, hospitals employ in-house legal teams, and medical specialists take their directives from these legal teams; and that doesn’t even address the counsel from insurance companies. When a physician’s legal team is faced with a malpractice claim or obfuscating responsibility off onto the parent they blame the parent, in an attempt to protect themselves from liability. Yet, none of this does away with the actual legal and ethical responsibilities held by doctors, so cases become further convoluted; CPS is accusing the parent in dependency court, while the parent is suing the doctor in a civil lawsuit.

It is essential that parents and doctors be allowed to hold a protected relationship. It is unquestionably against the best interest of children to have parents afraid to seek expert care. The worst part is that the fear held by parents is reasonable in the state of Oregon, as these cases are grossly overidentified by both DHS and the pediatricians at CARES NW. Our laws and courts are designed around the belief that doctors and patients hold a protected relationship, and that within that protected relationship patients needs are best met by working directly with their trusted and chosen doctors.

Neither DHS nor pediatricians of CARES NW should have any authority to break the sanctity of the relationship held between treating physicians and their patients, as this undermines the integrity and trust that must exist within these protected relationships. It is akin to the debates regarding an insurance company's right to dictate patient care above a that of a treating physician.

The mutually beneficial financial relationship between DHS and CARES NW cannot continue to be overlooked. CARES NW makes a lot money being the primary evaluator for Oregon abuse cases. DHS in turn collects significant amounts of federal funding based upon CARES NW findings. Both are cogs in the same system, feeding off of the same cases financially. Courts have held that treating doctors and their patients make the most appropriate medical decisions for individual patients. To our knowledge, forensic pediatricians are the only general doctors that do not defer to the superior medical opinions of specialists. Specialist have many additional years of specialized training and expertise, and it is unconscionable that that a doctor of lesser experience and credentials would be brought in and presented as an authority.

After significant research and conversation with victimized parents Family Rights Foundation seeks to work with legislators to sponsor protective legislation. Oregon families raising children with special needs are under attack and in need of your assistance. We humbly ask that you consider sponsoring a bill to protect the rights of Oregon families from the harmful and disastrous accusation of medical child abuse. Within our system we already have a process by which the rare medical abuser is held accountable, and that is criminal court. Anything less than criminal abuse is simply a differing medical opinion. DHS cannot be the arbitrator of what level of care is needed, CARES NW lacks the expertise, we need to leave medical care to families and their trusted expert physicians.