Human Rights denied: Something rotten in the state of Denmark: Update 1
May 25, 2013
Post #257 Shortlink: http://wp.me/pKrrB-35o
Reports and updates on Dx Revision Watch site on the Hansen family’s situation are being published as provided by, and in consultation with, Rebecca Hansen, Chairman, ME Foreningen, Danmark (ME Association, Denmark), or edited from reports as provided by Ms Hansen.
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“…Do ME patients in Denmark not have the right to choose which treatment we want to receive? Do we not have the right to visitors when we are in the hospital?”
Update 1: Human Rights denied
On May 11, on the eve of ME Awareness week, I published an account of the plight of the Hansen family, in Denmark. Karina Hansen is 24. She has been bedridden with severe ME since 2009.
In February, this year, Karina was forcibly removed from her bedroom and committed to Hammel Neurocenter.
Her parents have not seen Karina for over three months.
The Hansen family and their lawyer are still waiting for legal documentation and answers to their questions:
Which authority gave the order to remove Karina from her home against her will and by whom was it authorized?
What legislation was used to detain her as an involuntary patient in a hospital?
Why are the parents being denied visits?
Two updates on the case have been released, this week. These are being published, as provided, and with permission of the Hansen family and their lawyer.
For the first report see:
Something rotten in the state of Denmark: Karina Hansen’s story: http://wp.me/pKrrB-2Xc
For reports in Danish see:
Menneskerettighederne nægtet: Noget råddent i staten Danmark: Karina Hansen: Opdater 1: http://wp.me/pKrrB-36e
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights: https://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/
Status on Karina’s Case – May 24th, 2013
By Rebecca Hansen
Chairman, ME Foreningen, Danmark (ME Association, Denmark)
The following text has been approved by the family.
Karina is still hospitalized at Hammel Neurocenter. Dr. Jens Gyring gave a verbal message to the family that this could continue for a long time, perhaps a year. We have not seen any evidence that Karina is getting better.
Karina’s parents have a power of attorney that gives them the right to make decisions for Karina, also about her treatment. But this is ignored.
The power of attorney was made in May 2012. Karina’s general practitioner declared her psychologically healthy twice, in May 2012.
The Danish Board of Health claims that Karina’s lawyer is not her lawyer, as they now state that Karina was not competent when she hired her lawyer in May 2012. The lawyer has represented Karina since May 2012 and received access to Karina’s case at that time on the basis that he had authority as her lawyer. Then, The Danish Board of Health informed her lawyer, that it is true that he had authority at the time of the first failed attempt to section Karina (May 3, 2012), but that the power of attorney does not apply to the incident in February 2013, when Karina was forcibly removed and hospitalized.
The psychiatrist, Nils Balle Christensen, writes that Karina is an adult and has the ability to make “here and now decisions” [“her og nu beslutninger”] and that Hammel Neurocenter is doing nothing against her will. But at the same time, Holstebro Kommune believes that Karina needs a guardian and Statsforfatningen Midtjylland has been asked to appoint one for her. This will disempower Karina completely and leave all decisions up to her guardian.
The ME Association, Denmark, contacted the Patient Office on April 19, 2013 to ask for the name of Karina’s patient advisor. We wished to inform the advisor about Karina’s illness and to offer to bring an ME expert to Denmark to examine Karina. The answer from the Patient Office was that “the case is handed over to the Legal Office in Region Midtjylland.”
Karina’s parents and I tried to visit Karina on May 12, 2013, but we were denied access to her. You can read more about our attempt on the ME Association’s Facebook page under Noter.
Nils Balle Christensen writes that there is not a ban on visits, but Karina’s parents are still not allowed to visit her. A verbal message was given to Karina’s parents that “the laywers” will create a “document” about the “visit restrictions.” Karina’s parents expect to get that in the next 7-14 days.
Karina has her mobile phone at the hospital and we have tried to call it many times, but it always goes directly to voice mail.
A Visit to Karina – a Question of Human Rights
On May 12, Karina’s parents and I decided once again try to visit Karina at Hammel Neurocenter. Karina is a severely ill Danish ME patient being held at Hammel Neurocenter since February 12, 2013, during which time her parents have not been allowed to visit or talk to her.
Karina’s lawyer has recently received a very limited access to some of the paperwork in Karina’s case by using the Public Records Act. This revealed that it is actually not permitted in Denmark to prevent relatives from visiting their family members in the hospital and that human rights have priority.
Karina’s parents had been told that they must meet with Nils Balle Christensen (NBC), a psychiatrist from the Research Center for Functional Disorders and Psychosomatics [Aarhus], to talk about the conditions of visitation before they could see their daughter. When Karina’s sister, Janni, visited Karina in April, Janni was given instructions about what she could and could not say to Karina. The parents were not allowed in at all because they were told they first needed to meet with NBC to decide the conditions of visitation.
But now we knew that it is not legal to have this restriction on visits, so we decided to try to see Karina on Sunday May 12 – Mother’s Day and International ME Awareness Day.
Before I tell about the visit, I will tell about the contact NBC has had with Karina and her family.
Nils Balle Christensen became involved with Karina’s case in May 2012 after Karina’s lawyer prevented her removal under a psychiatric law. He was introduced to the family and his job was to help make a treatment plan for Karina. During the summer of 2012, NBC visited the family several times with the purpose of making a treatment plan for Karina. During this time, NBC did not want to cooperate with Karina’s lawyer and NBC did not deliver a written treatment plan. Karina’s parents never received any written instructions for Karina’s care and there was no criticism of the care they were giving Karina.
I was at a meeting with NBC and Karina’s parents in August 2012 where NBC told the mother that she was doing a good job. NBC came with an offer to hospitalize Karina, but not a plan about what would happen when she was hospitalized. They also did not receive an explanation as to why they could not treat Karina at home. Karina’s parents did not dare to agree to an unknown treatment from a doctor who has never before treated (or even seen) a severely ill ME patient. For many reasons, Karina’s parents did not trust NBC and contact with NBC was stopped in the early fall of 2012. Karina’s parents chose to pay for a private doctor and a dietician to help Karina.
Karina’s parents believed that NBC’s involvement with Karina was now over. But the limited access that Karina’s lawyer has now obtained under the Public Records Act reveals that NBC’s involvement was far from over.
The paperwork shows that there was activity in Karina’s case between from the Board of Health to Holstebro county and the Holstebro police, as well as to NBC after his contact with her parents had stopped.
Furthermore, these papers reveal that there was an inquiry to the Ministry for Health and Prevention [Ministeriet for Sundhed og Forebyggelse] about the right to prevent relatives from visiting family members at a hospital. On December 21, 2012, the Minister secretary sent a 5-page answer that explains that human rights have priority (weigh very heavily).
But in NBC’s letter to Karina’s parents on Februay 12, 2013, it says:
“It has been decided that because of Karina’s condition, she may not have visitors the first 14 days. After that, it will be evaluated if she is able to have visits.”
With this new information about human rights in hand, Karina’s parents and I decided on May 12 to see if there was still a ban or restrictions on visitation to Karina at Hammel Neurocenter.
We did not want the staff to feel threatened by us in any way, so we had agreed ahead of time that if we were told we could not visit Karina, we would respect this, but would ask a lot of questions about why this ban/restriction was being made.
At Hammel, Karina’s parents introduced themselves to the staff and asked for permission to see their daughter. The answer was No and we were told that they should have made an appointment with the doctor before coming. I asked if there was a ban on visits and they answered No, not a ban. Then I asked if there were restrictions, but did not receive an answer. Instead, a staff member said that she would call Jens Gyring, the head doctor at the center. They asked us to wait. The staff at Hammel Neurocenter were polite and friendly, but it was obvious that they were not comfortable with us being there.
A few minutes later, the nurse returned and said that Jens Gyring’s answer was that the parents must first have a meeting with NBC before they could see their daughter. We discussed this restriction and Karina’s parents asked for a written explanation as to why they had to have a meeting with NBC before they could see their daughter and what the intent of the meeting would be.
I pointed out that it was not legal to prevent parents from seeing their child and tried to show them the statement from the Ministry of Health and Prevention [Ministeriet for Sundhed og Forebyggelse]. A second staff member broke in to say that this discussion must be taken up with the doctors and not them.
In the meantime, Jens Gyring was contacted again and said that Karina should be asked if she wanted to have a visit. A new nurse joined our discussion and said: “I have just been in with Karina and said you were here and asked if she wanted a visit and she just shook her head.”
Very interesting that suddenly there was no ban, but now it was up to Karina…
To that I said that we would like to have a whole sentence from Karina to make sure she understood the question. We wanted to hear her say that she didn’t want to see her mom and dad. We couldn’t really know if she understood the question or if she really believed they were there after three months. Also, Karina usually wears earplugs, so maybe she did not even hear the question.
Karina’s mom said that she would like to hear the words from Karina’s own mouth. That she would like to see Karina and hear Karina’s answer. And if Karina told her to leave, she would go away immediately.
The staff insisted that Karina has answered.
Remember, the last thing Karina said to her mother was on February 13, when Karina called her mother and said: “How do I get out of here? I can’t take this.” – What has happened in the last three months? Does Karina really not want to see her parents? And if so, why not? What have the doctors told Karina about why her parents are not visiting? We can only guess the answers to these questions.
It was clear that her parents would not be allowed to see Karina and hear for themselves that she didn’t want a visit. But we did get the staff to promise to have NBC send them a written statement about why they had to have a meeting with him before they could see their daughter and what the meeting would be about. They also promised to charge up Karina’s cell phone and give it to her. Then we left the [Hammel] Neurocenter. Her mom had tears in her eyes and said, “I really thought I was going to see her today.”
When her parents got home, they wrote a mail to NBC and once again asked for a written explanation as to why they may not see Karina and what the agenda would be for the meeting that he requires before they can see her.
NBC answered that there is no ban on visits. And since Karina’s parents don’t want to meet with NBC, then they can meet with the head doctor Jens Gyring instead: “where there can be made written agreements about future visits, telephone contact and more.”
Isn’t this still a ban until their conditions are met? How is this any different from a ban on visits until the parents meet with NBC? What right do they have to make this condition?
A few days later, Karina’s parents were told by the doctor Jens Gyring that it would be up to the lawyers to make a written agreement about visitation. This could take two weeks.
In the meantime, we can think about what this situation means for other ME patients and their families in Denmark. A severely ill ME patient is assigned a psychiatrist that has never treated a severely ill ME patient before. The psychiatrist comes from a clinic that has chosen not to work with international ME experts (letter from September 2012 and minutes from our meeting in October 2012).
The psychiatrist does not wish to work with the patient’s lawyer or give any written information about the treatment he will give. When the ME patient and the family decide they do not want the treatment offered by this psychiatrist, then the Danish authorities work together to remove the patient from her home – quite obviously against her will – and isolate her for her family and her lawyer.
The psychiatrists in charge of Karina are also in charge of all ME patients in Denmark – so is this the future for all ME patients and their families in Denmark?
Do ME patients in Denmark not have the right to choose which treatment we want to receive? Do we not have the right to visitors when we are in the hospital?
Yes, something is very rotten in the state of Denmark.
If I have misunderstood something in this story, then I will be happy to hear an explanation from the involved parties.
For the first report see:
Something rotten in the state of Denmark: Karina Hansen’s story: http://wp.me/pKrrB-2Xc