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Dear Dr Cannell: Legal recourse and the Mondale Amendment

Posted on: December 20, 2013   by  John Cannell, MD


Dear Dr. Cannell:

I am a parent of an infant who passed away and I believe it was because of the misdiagnoses of child abuse. I had one doctor out the kindness of his heart look over my son’s x-rays and say that my son’s x-rays did show a lot of signs of rickets.

I would like a second opinion on this since I spent 2 years in prison over this. I am just looking for peace of mind. See when my son fell into cardiac arrest, he never acted in pain, but his arm looked out of place after other x-rays found more fractures.

I begged every doctor that came into the room to check for rickets and no one would preform even a blood test to check vitamin D or calcium levels. I’m not sure if they thought I was just crazy since they said child abuse, or if it was because I was poor and had only state Medicaid. Please help me I really need this.

Thank you,

Cathy, California

PS Please get back to me if you would like to see my son’s x-rays.

Dear Cathy:

I can’t imagine the pain of what you have been through. It reminds of an old legal saying, “There is nothing as important to the innocent as their innocence.”

I would be glad to look at the x-rays, but I am also sending you the email of a radiologist who is more of an expert than I and might look at them, too.

As far as legal recourse, I am afraid you have none against the child abuse workers, even if rickets is proven. The “Mondale Amendment” protects child abuse workers from civil litigation, assuming they were acting in good faith, even if they make a tragic mistake.

However, you may have other legal recourses. While I don’t know the details of your son’s death, the doctors caring for him – if the x-rays show rickets – should have obtained a vitamin D level because low vitamin D levels in infancy can cause death via cardiac arrest and heart failure.


John Cannell, MD

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