Judge says injured wrestler cannot go home

Feb. 8, 2011 at 3:08 PM
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PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 8 (UPI) -- A Pennsylvania judge has refused to let the parents of a hospitalized high school wrestler treat the boy's spinal injuries at home with alternative medicine.

Following the decision in a closed-door hearing Monday, Delaware County child-welfare officials retained their temporary custody of Mazeratti Mitchell, 16, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

Mitchell has been in a hospital since colliding with another wrestler and suffering temporary paralysis during a practice last week.

Vermell Mitchell, who described her son's injury as a "bruised spine," said last week doctors wanted to use rods, screws, and plates to stabilize his neck out of concern any slip or fall might further damage his spine.

The county won temporary custody after Vermell Mitchell and her husband, Jack, rejected the doctors' recommendations and sought to treat him at home with natural remedies including herbal and physical therapies.

Most states have laws granting parents' rights to make medical care decisions for their children -- until the child's life is at stake, experts say.

Pennsylvania's statute permits a county agency to "seek court-ordered medical intervention when the lack of medical or surgical care threatens the child's life or long-term health."

"It's been pretty consistently in favor of the state in extreme cases," said James Dwyer, a professor of law at William and Mary Law School who has written extensively on the topic.

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