DCF Working To Send Teen In Middle of Medical Dispute to Connecticut

March 2, 2014

(BOSTON-CBS) – The Massachusetts Department of Children and Families confirmed Friday it’s working to send a teenager at the center of a bitter state custody dispute back to her home state of Connecticut.

The agency also announced that Tufts Medical Center will soon begin overseeing the treatment of 15-year-old Justina Pelletier, an apparent victory for her parents.  Pelletier has spent the past year in Massachusetts state custody undergoing psychiatric treatment as her parents and doctors at Children’s Hospital clashed over her diagnosis and treatment.


Pelletier had been a patient at Tufts undergoing treatment for mitochondrial disease — a rare and controversial disorder where the body’s cells can’t produce energy, triggering chronic fatigue and severe digestive problems. But when the Pelletiers brought Justina into the Children’s Hospital emergency room last February, doctors quickly diagnosed her problems as psychiatric.

When the Pelletiers objected, Children’s brought in DCF and the state took custody of Justina, essentially ruling her parents were committing medical child abuse by pursuing medical rather than psychological treatment. A judge later ruled in favor of keeping Justina in state custody.

“Our primary goal has always been the health and well-being of Justina. We want the parents to be able to work with the providers and courts to ultimately move Justina back to her home state of Connecticut,” DCF spokesman Alex Loftus said in a statement Friday.

It does not appear that Pelletier would be returned to the custody of her parents as part of the move to Connecticut. The statement from Loftus only says that the state is trying

“to find an appropriate placement near her home.”

It also notes that a medical team from Tufts has been chosen to care for Pelletier, which is in line with her parents’ wishes. Children’s has declined comment on the complicated case, other than insisting it has the patient’s best interests at heart.