Philadelphia (WPVI) — Elected officials in Lehigh County say they have discovered an unusually high number of rare medical diagnoses and are calling for action.
Several parents have lost custody of their children because of this, he said.
Both parents were diagnosed with Munchausen syndrome by proxy (MSP). MSP is a form of child abuse in which a child’s caregiver invents or makes the child sick to appear sick.
The Financial Supervisory Commissioner for Lehigh County, who is running for reelection, expressed concern after he said he found a significant concentration of cases in the area.
“It was shocking. It was like a movie,” said a parent accused of Munchausen syndrome by proxy.
Steve and Kim, who did not want their surnames to be made public, said losing custody of their then-16-year-old son in May 2022 and then losing custody of their second son in the weeks that followed shattered their family. Month.
“I think within 30 hours of the record, we were accused of having Munchausen syndrome on our behalf, even though we had never met or spoken,” Kim said.
They took their 16-year-old son to the ER at a local hospital in Allentown.
Due to his son’s privacy, they would only say that he was medically complicated, had been under the care of specialists at the Cleveland Clinic for years, and was in danger.
He told the nurse that he had been emotionally abused. His parents attributed this to his declining health and dissatisfaction with his cell phone discipline in the home.
The next day, he was cut off from seeing his son and was told by a caseworker that he was being accused of Munchausen syndrome on his behalf.
“She explained to me that this hospital does this kind of thing,” Kim told Action News investigative reporter Chad Pradeli.
Mark Pinsley is a traffic controller for Lehigh County. he wants an investigation. He fears the county could face multi-million dollar lawsuits.
“Is this a legitimate cluster of cases? It seems unlikely, but that’s why I’m calling for an investigation,” Pinsley said.
Of the eight cases of Munchausen syndrome by proxy reported in Pennsylvania from 2017 to 2021, Pinsley said one-third of the cases were found in Lehigh and Norhampton counties. .
Steve and Kim were charged with the disorder the following year.
“And to put it in terms of scale, only 10 of 67 counties have received a surrogate diagnosis of Munchausen syndrome in the last five years,” Pinsley added.
After a year-long ordeal to regain custody, Kim and Steve finally have their court date.
Attorney Beth Maloney said months of psychological evaluation had determined that the parents did not have Munchausen syndrome by proxy.
Then, halfway through the child protection trial, the Lehigh County Children and Youth Association suddenly dropped the case unconditionally, but their son chose to remain in foster care.
“The Department of Child and Youth Services did not conduct any investigation into this incident and the fact that these parents not only have children in need of professional care, but also receive professional care,” Maloney said. He refused to consider the numerous medical records proving that he had
“They took away all our rights and traumatized our children. It is irreparable,” said Kim, holding back tears.
The Lehigh County Department of Children and Youth did not immediately respond to Action News for comment.
The Action News investigative team continues to investigate which doctors and hospital networks may be responsible.