Medical Kidnapping by Mayo Clinic

mayo clinic medical kidnapping

Story at-a-glance -

  • CNN reported on the case of Alyssa Gilderhus' "medical kidnapping" in which the patient is held at the hospital against their will
  • Alyssa's mother, Amber, clashed with some of the care providers, including a social worker and head physician; the situation escalated to the point that the hospital banned Amber from seeing her daughter and increasingly sought to isolate Alyssa from the rest of her family, ultimately trying to gain guardianship
  • Ultimately, after months in what felt like prison, the family broke Alyssa free, only to be chased across the state by police; less than a day later, after a second hospital cleared Alyssa medically, police backed off, stating the family had done nothing illegal
  • The Mayo Clinic blasted CNN's reporting of the story, calling it "inaccurate, incomplete and irresponsible" and citing "highly complex and sensitive family dynamics involved in caring for this patient"
  • Hospitals aren't prisons, and patients have a right to seek care elsewhere or leave the hospital against medical advice, even without signing any paperwork

By Dr. Mercola

Hospitals aren't prisons, and patients have a right to seek care elsewhere or leave the hospital against medical advice, even without signing any paperwork. Yet in more cases than you might expect, patients end up feeling intimidated, threatened or mistreated by hospital staff. In extreme cases, like that of Alyssa Gilderhus, the case escalates to the point of "medical kidnapping," in which the patient is held at the hospital against their will and increasingly isolated from family.

In Gilderhus' case, the hospital was the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, a facility Alyssa's parents had initially chosen for her care because of its notable reputation. On Christmas Day 2016, Alyssa, then 18 years old, suffered from a ruptured brain aneurysm. She was rushed to a local hospital, and then to the Mayo Clinic, where neurosurgeons saved her life, against considerable odds.

Troubles started, however, when she was transferred to the hospital's rehabilitation unit and Alyssa's mother, Amber, clashed with some of the care providers, including a social worker and head physician. The situation escalated to the point that the hospital banned Amber from seeing her daughter and increasingly sought to isolate Alyssa from the rest of her family, ultimately trying to gain guardianship.

Mayo Clinic Attempts Extremely Rare Move to Get Legal Guardianship of Adult Patient

CNN reported on Alyssa's story based on interviews with her, her family and others close to the case, including a former member of a Mayo Clinic board and law enforcement officials. After Alyssa's parents expressed they weren't happy with some of her care providers, asking that they be replaced, Amber tried to intervene in a meeting a social worker and head physician were having about her family. She was subsequently escorted off the property and not allowed to return. CNN reported:1

"[T]he day before her mother was kicked out of the hospital, a Mayo psychiatrist examined Alyssa and found that she lacked the capacity to make her own medical decisions, according to a summary of her care that her doctors wrote after she left Mayo. Around this time, a hospital social worker went to adult protection services in two counties to try to get those authorities to get guardianship over Alyssa, according to the police. If they had succeeded, she would have become a ward of the state.

Alyssa and her family say that they weren't told any of this as it was happening but that around this time, they started to feel that Mayo was isolating Alyssa … staffers confiscated Alyssa's cellphone, laptop and tablet after finding that she'd made a video for her mother, according to Alyssa and her family. They say Alyssa's visitors were also banned from bringing their devices into the hospital …

Mayo staffers said no one would be allowed to stay overnight with Alyssa, according to Duane and Amber's sister, April Chance … The family says the doctors also told them that visitors would no longer be allowed to attend Alyssa's treatment sessions, such as physical and occupational therapy."

Alyssa's family, as well as Alyssa (who was legally an adult) requested that she be transferred to a different facility, but the hospital refused. "She was truly being held captive," Alyssa's grandmother told CNN. "I would never believe a hospital could do that — never in my wildest dreams."2

Ultimately, after months in what felt like prison, the family came up with a plan to break Alyssa free, telling the nurses who watched her closely that she needed to come down to the hospital lobby to visit with an elderly relative. When she got to the lobby, and outside to a car where her mother was waiting, Alyssa "escaped" with nurses yelling after her and calling police to report a patient "abduction."

Police Pursuit of 'Abducted' Patient Falls Flat

The Mayo Clinic called police to claim that Alyssa had been abducted from the hospital, even though she left of her own free will and desire. A police chase ensued, with law enforcement pinging the family's cell phones and following them across the state. Her parents, fearing police would admit Alyssa back to a Mayo Clinic facility, headed to South Dakota, reaching an emergency room for Sanford Medical Center in Sioux Falls about 12 hours after leaving Mayo Clinic.

Mayo Clinic doctors had claimed that Alyssa was in grave danger after leaving the hospital and required continued hospitalization to protect her health. The Sanford doctors disagreed, prescribing her medications and saying she was well enough to recuperate at home.

In another glaring disagreement, whereas Mayo Clinic claimed Alyssa was not mentally competent enough to make her own decisions, the Sanford doctors believed she could make her own decisions and sign her own consent forms. As soon as the doctors cleared her, the police backed off the case. As reported by CNN:3

"'If a doctor at another facility says she's fine and comes up with a second opinion, that kind of takes the law out of it,' said Chris Vasvick, a Martin County sheriff's deputy. 'That's one doctor's opinion against another, and that doesn't have anything to do with law enforcement at all.'

[John] Sherwin, [captain of investigations for the Rochester Police Department] … agreed. 'We didn't have any reason for the police to intervene,' Sherwin said. He added that Alyssa and her parents had done nothing illegal. No charges were filed against them."

Mayo Clinic Denies Report

The Mayo Clinic has blasted CNN's reporting of the story, calling it "inaccurate, incomplete and irresponsible" and citing "highly complex and sensitive family dynamics involved in caring for this patient."4

"At the heart of this story is a complex situation involving a vulnerable adult in a suspected abusive family environment," the Mayo Clinic noted, adding, "We fully support our compassionate and dedicated staff who were and remain deeply concerned for the patient's well-being and safety and exemplify Mayo's values and commitment to our patients," the hospital said in a statement.5 Still, this isn't the first time a hospital has been accused of "medical kidnapping," and it isn't likely to be the last.

CNN reported on another case, in which Kristen Spyker says her newborn son was held against her will after he was born with a rare heart defect. Spyker asked for him to be transferred to another hospital with a larger pediatric heart program, but a heart surgeon resisted her requests. A social worker, along with hospital security guards, then suggested postpartum depression was impairing Spyker's ability to make decisions for her son. Only after threatening legal action was she able to get her son discharged from the hospital.

"Her son then had a successful procedure at another hospital — a different procedure than the one recommended by the first doctor," CNN reported. Many other parents have shared similar stories on social media, and unbeknownst to many, child protective services in many U.S. states have falsely accused parents of child abuse without any evidence, including in cases of so-called medical neglect.

State Child Abduction Is Big Business

In 1991, the bipartisan National Commission on Children figured out that children were being taken from their families "prematurely or unnecessarily" because federal formulas give states "a strong financial incentive" to do so rather than provide services to keep families together."6

Children in foster care bring in revenue for counties, such that the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) — the federal law on which almost all state and local legislation and funding for child protective services are based — mandates states to implement child abuse laws on their own, so they can align themselves for the massive funding and grants that go along with the law.

In theory as the years went by, if the goal for this law — to reduce child abuse in the U.S. — had been successful, then today we should need less funding for these programs, not more. Success also should have resulted in fewer children in foster care and even fewer being put up for adoption. But in reality, the opposite happened. Instead of less children in foster care, the numbers went up for nine years after CAPTA was passed. And, layers and layers of state and federal government programs and agencies whose funding depends solely on child abuse occurring were created.

Child abuse is a terrible thing, but thousands of child abuse cases may in fact not be child abuse at all, such as in some cases of rickets, caused by either vitamin D deficiency or aluminum adjuvants in vaccines. Infant rickets perfectly mimics child abuse, and the baby will have virtually no symptoms — until their bones fracture. According to Dr. David Ayoub, a radiologist in Springfield, Illinois, a great number of child abuse cases may in fact be instances of misdiagnosed metabolic dysfunction.7

Informed Consent Must Be Preserved

There are also many cases in which parents who support vaccine choice or exercise their right to not have their children vaccinated are deemed "child abusers." In cases of divorce, vaccination decisions have even been used to withdraw or grant parental custody. But protecting such medical decisions form the basis for informed consent, a basic human right in which a person has the ability to voluntarily accept or reject a treatment or medical procedure after being fully informed of its possible risks and benefits.

"The most important goal of informed consent," according to the University of Washington School of Medicine, "is that the patient has an opportunity to be an informed participant in her health care decisions." It seems a simple premise, but throughout history we've seen cases where informed consent was not only challenged but completely ignored — a trend that exists to this day.

Pediatricians have become increasingly aggressive in their insistence that all children receive all federally recommended vaccines, without exceptions, for example, even using bullying, harassment and insults to get their point across. Many parents of vaccine-injured children also face public shaming, bullying and ridicule, with some being accused of lying or endangering other children as they're asking for an open and honest conversation into vaccine safety and risks.

Vaccine Industry Will Become a Primary Driver of Medical Neglect

Public confidence in vaccines is waning,8 and with it is coming an onslaught of criticism against those who dare question the federally recommended vaccine schedule. Vaccine orthodoxy dictates that humans must believe vaccination is safe and effective, and that government-mandated vaccines are always a good thing. But the fact is vaccines are tolerated by some people and devastating to others.

Still, the vaccine industry is poised to become a primary driver of medical neglect cases going forward, as vaccine mandates become increasingly common. Some states have already made strides toward preventing this overreach of power by Child Protective Services (CPS) and the courts. For instance, Texas legislation includes protective language for parents filing a conscientious/religious vaccine exemption for their children, while in Oregon, the Oregon Department of Human Services issued a memo that states not vaccinating a child by itself does not constitute medical neglect.

Still, even commercials are trying to tap into parents' guilt in an attempt to spread vaccine-deficient negligence. Such is the case with Merck's 2016 ads featuring its human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. The commercials show adults with cervical cancer, then flash back to their teen years, implying that the HPV vaccine could have prevented the cancer.

"Some people on Twitter labeled the commercials 'bullying' and 'super sketchy' and accused the company of trying to guilt-trip parents to bolster corporate profits," The Washington Post reported,9 not to mention the fact that they don't highlight the vaccine's many health risks or the fact that it's not proven to prevent cancer. This is an issue that affects adults as well as children, however, with bills being introduced to penalize employees for opting out of workplace vaccines or threatening to fire them if they exercise their right of refusal.

How to Stay Safe if You're in the Hospital

If you're in the hospital recovering from surgery due to chronic illness or injury, remember that as the patient, you are the most powerful person in the hospital, and you have a choice of what treatments you receive, from vaccinations to surgeries to medications and beyond. However, the hospital system works on the assumption that you will not claim that power. Doctors, nurses and hospital administrators are offering you products and services, and they're trying to get you to accept them without question, but you have the right to say no to any treatment you do not want.

You also have the right to revoke permission you previously may have given. If you are incapacitated, your spouse, followed by your children, has the most influence. Ideally, you want someone with you 24 hours a day, who can double-check what medications you're being given and why, make sure nurses and doctors are washing their hands and who can ask questions about any procedures being done.

For more information, view my interview with Dr. Andrew Saul, editor-in-chief of the Orthomolecular Medicine News Service, below, and heed advice to bring a personal advocate with you whenever possible. A relative or friend can speak up for you and ensure you're given proper care in any medical situation if you're too incapacitated (or timid) to do so yourself.

As for Alyssa's case, she's graduated from high school and finished up rehabilitation about a year after leaving the Mayo Clinic. Her family says they still haven't received any explanation for why the hospital was trying to gain guardianship over Alyssa.10

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