With an eye on the food allergy community as a unique group of consumers since 2008, we're on a quest to find and share ways to continue enjoying the good things in life.

22 April 2014

Can Caregiver Mishandling of Food Allergies Equal Medical Neglect?

Did you know April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month? One form of abuse which is not as frequently discussed is medical neglect. In defining medical neglect, the American Human Association states the following (emphasis added by me):

"Medical neglect is the failure to provide appropriate health care for a child (although financially able to do so), thus placing the child at risk of being seriously disabled or disfigured or dying. According to NCANDS, in 2005, 2 percent of children (17,637 children) in the United States were victims of medical neglect (USDHHS, 2007). Concern is warranted not only when a parent refuses medical care for a child in an emergency or for an acute illness, but also when a parent ignores medical recommendations for a child with a treatable chronic disease or disability, resulting in frequent hospitalizations or significant deterioration."

I think life threatening food allergies qualify as a "chronic disease or disability". Now, I know I am stepping into a controversial area with the following questions, but I think this is a topic that warrants discussion. What about caregivers--parents, other relatives, teachers, whoever--who purposefully expose children to their known allergens?? To be clear, I'm not referring to parents who've enrolled their children in oral immunotherapy treatment. I'm talking about caregivers who have been informed that a child has a life threatening food allergy and knowingly expose the child to the allergen. Likewise, what about a caregiver who repeatedly does not keep a child's prescribed epinephrine injectors on hand, despite the doctor's instructions?

What is your opinion? What about these sorts of mistreatment? Where is the line between "mistakes" and "carelessness" and "neglect" when it comes to managing a child's food allergies?
This post was originally written and published by Jennifer B on Food Allergy Buzz on April 29, 2013.

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