Alisha Newman and medical incompetence

Mark Belling of Milwaukee's AM1130 (Belling is among the substitutes for Rush Limbaugh) devoted a lengthy segment to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's article about Alisha Newman and her being charged with physical abuse of a child — her 10-year-old daughter.  Further research indicates that Alisha Newman is a licensed nurse, married, and the mother of two other children.

Newman is accused of faking her daughter's illnesses to health care providers in multiple states, resulting in "unnecessary and potentially fatal treatments for the girl, including a pacemaker, feeding tube and IV port."

The article raises more questions than answers:

  1.  Why would a doctor place a pacemaker in a 10-year-old?  Aren't there a medical criteria for placing a feeding tube and IV port?  Weren't the physicians who treated this child capable of seeing that the child was essentially healthy?  Who is holding these medical providers accountable?
  2. Who paid for these services?  Insurance?  Medicaid?  Where was the oversight?  What about the nurses who actually treated her in the hospital?  Where was large claim management?  Why didn't large claim management intervene — especially knowing she was hospitalized for 21 days just five weeks earlier?
  3. She's a licensed nurse?  Where?  How?
  4. Where was the father?  Grandparents?  Didn't the father see signs that his wife was unstable?  What about Newman's parents?

Newman appears to have Munchausen syndrome by proxy — a mental illness where the caretaker or patient exaggerates or induces a condition for an otherwise healthy individual.

As we continue to tackle the mess known as "health care," what can we learn from the treatment mistakes of this 10-year-old?  How do we hold the professionals who treated this young lady accountable?  To what degree do loved ones bear culpability?

To those who think a single-payer health system is the answer, this is a cautionary story, as multiple professionals failed this child.  Do we need more laws?  No.  Do licensed professionals need to lose their licenses and be held accountable for their mindless approach to treating her?  Absolutely.

Let's remember the Hippocratic Oath: "First do no harm."