Report edited from an account provided by the ME Association, Denmark, with permission of the Hansen family.
How can I get out of here? I can’t take this.
Something rotten in the state of Denmark:
Karina Hansen’s story
Karina Hansen is 24. She has been completely bedridden since 2009.
In February, this year, Karina was forcibly removed from her home and committed to a hospital. The family is still waiting for a legal explanation for why she was removed.
Karina suffers from severe ME and her family believes she is getting worse.
Karina removed from home
On February 12, 2013, five policemen from Holstebro county, Denmark, arrived at Karina’s house and forcibly removed her from her bed.
Two doctors, a locksmith and two social workers were also present.
Karina called for her mother’s help, but her mother was blocked by the police from aiding her. Karina used her mobile phone for the first time in years to call her mother, her father, her cousin and her sister, Janni. Karina is so ill that she can usually only speak in one or two word sentences, but during her removal she managed to call her father and say: Help Dad, in my room, and to her sister: Help, Janni I don’t know where they are taking me.
Karina’s mother could not answer her phone because she was surrounded by policemen.
Karina was driven off to a hospital in an ambulance. Her parents were not told where she was being taken or why they were taking her away. They were given no paperwork.
Later that day, her parents received a phone call. They were told that Karina was at Hammel Neurocenter and that someone would call them every day at 10am to tell them how Karina was doing and that no one would be allowed to visit their daughter for 14 days.
On the morning of February 13, Karina managed to call her mother from her mobile phone. She said: How can I get out of here? I can’t take this. (Hvordan kan jeg komme væk herfra? Jeg kan ikke klare det.) Then the connection was cut.
A few days later, Karina’s parents received a letter from a psychiatrist, Nils Balle Christensen, which said that he would be in charge of Karina’s treatment at Hammel Neurocenter. He also wrote that because “of her condition,” Karina was not allowed visitors for two weeks. That ban on visitors was later extended to three weeks because Dr Christensen was on vacation.
Nils Balle Christensen works at the Research Clinic for Functional Disorders and Psychosomatics, Aarhus. He and his boss, Per Fink, believe that ME is a functional disorder. In Denmark, a functional disorder is understood to be a psychosomatic illness. The treatments the clinic recommends are graded exercise therapy (GET), cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and antidepressants.
The psychiatrists at this clinic have no experience with severely ill ME patients and the Hansen family and the ME Association of Denmark fear that Karina is being treated incorrectly which will lead to a severe and permanent worsening of her condition.
Karina’s parents have not been permitted to see their daughter for three months.
The family visited the Neurocenter on April 1 to try to visit Karina, but the parents were not allowed to see her. Karina’s sister, Janni, who is a nurse, was allowed to see Karina for a few minutes. A staff member followed Janni into the room. Janni said that Karina was extremely pale, was unable to talk, and did not show signs that she recognized her sister.
In Janni’s opinion, Karina’s condition is worse now than before she was hospitalized.
Why was Karina forcibly removed?
Karina’s parents and lawyer have yet to receive any official paperwork from any government body or clinician about the reason for her removal. They have received no treatment plan or copies of Karina’s medical reports.
No charges have been made against Karina’s parents. The case has never been heard by a court.
Karina’s parents do not know if or when they will be allowed to see their daughter or if or when she will be allowed to come home. Her parents and her lawyer have obtained power of attorney for Karina, but this is being ignored.
The regional state administrations for Mid-Jutland (Statsforvaltningen Midtjylland) are trying to appoint someone as guardian for Karina.
The only information the family receives comes from Jens Gyring, senior doctor at Hammel Neurocenter. He now calls Karina’s father twice a week and tells him how Karina is.
But the parents are finding it difficult to trust what they are told because they are being given conflicting information. Dr Christensen says Karina is improving every day, but Jens Gyring says there is no change.
Karina’s thinks her sister is deteriorating.
Jens Grying says he is taking instructions about Karina’s care from Dr Christensen and that the treatment given is a rehabilitation programme.
There are many unanswered questions
Karina’s mother was paid by the county to take care of her daughter and there was never any report of neglect. After Karina was taken away, her mother was fired from her job on the grounds that the caregiver duties were no longer needed.
Which authority gave the order to remove Karina and by whom was it authorized?
What legislation was used to remove and detain her as an involuntary patient in a hospital?
Why are the parents and their lawyer not permitted to see paperwork about the case?
Why have the parents not been allowed to visit?
Are there any charges levelled against the parents?
What is the treatment plan for Karina? The hospital requires that a treatment plan be made on admission.
Why all the secrecy?
Meeting with Liselott Blixt
On April 4, Karina’s parents and two representatives from the ME Association of Denmark met with parliament member, Liselott Blixt, who agreed to help to get answers to the many questions in this case.
The ME Association of Denmark had been waiting to publish information about Karina’s case until her parents and lawyer had received the official documents. But it is now obvious that these documents will not be released unless pressure is placed on the officials.
Note: Suzy Chapman, owner of Dx Revision Watch, has no connection with any petitions or any other initiatives in response to the Hansen family’s situation. All enquiries in relation to petitions or other initiatives should be addressed directly to the organisers.
What can you do?
The ME Association of Denmark initiative
The ME Association of Denmark hopes that pressure from many sources might encourage the authorities to release these documents and that you may be able to help by writing to the Danish Ministry of Health, Holstebro County or Region Midtjylland or to the Danish embassy in your country, and letting them know you are aware of Karina’s case. The ME Association of Denmark suggests that you ask for documentation that the treatment Karina is receiving is the correct treatment for severely ill ME patients. Communications should be polite and professional.
Danish State authorities:
Danish Health and Medicines Authority (Sundhedsstyrelsen):
Axel Heides Gade 1
2300 Copenhagen S
Telephone: +45 7222 7400 Monday to Friday, 9:30 – 15:00.
Danish regional Office:
St. Blichers Vej 6
Tele: +45 7256 8300
Holstebro County – Mayor’s Office
Tlf. 9611 7500
If you receive any answers to your communication, please send them the ME Association of Denmark at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What else can you do?
There is a May 12th (ME Awareness Week) campaign, here, for sending postcards and also signing a petition in support of the Hansen family’s situation:
For information on where to send your postcard and the campaign the ME Association of Denmark is running go here on Facebook
If you have a blog or a website, please link to this post or contact the ME Association of Denmark for a copy of the account and write your own blog post. Post a link to this post (or to any of several other blogs about Karina) on Facebook, Twitter, Listservs and forums.
Karina Hansen was born in November 1988. She is now 24.
2004/5: Karina contracts mononucleosis, after which she succumbs to countless infections, including sinus infections, as well as severe gastritis. She received many courses of antibiotics. Her activity became very limited because of post exertional malaise. In 2006, Karina had a serious sinus infection and never fully recovered.
2008: Karina receives a diagnosis of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/ME (ICD-10 G93.3) while at a Danish arthritis hospital, where she was admitted for rehabilitation: exercise and cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). She was there for 17 days and could never do more than one hour of activity a day.
During the course of her illness, Karina was examined several times by psychiatrists who found no evidence of mental illness. One psychiatrist wrote that her symptoms were most likely caused by the mononucleosis.
Autumn 2009: Karina has an influenza vaccine after which she becomes completely bedridden. In March 2010, Karina’s mother took leave from work to take care of her daughter.
May 2010: Karina’s GP pressured her parents into admitting her to hospital for rehabilitation. By this time, Karina was so ill that she cried from the headaches when they talked to her. There appears to have been an attempt to detain her at the hospital by declaring her mentally unfit. But the medical officer wrote that the “psychiatry law enforcement provisions cannot be used.” She was allowed to go home after three days. Karina’s condition deteriorated after this hospitalization.
May 2010: Karina is seen for the first time by Dr Isager, who confirms the diagnosis of ME. Dr Isager is a Danish doctor who has seen hundreds of ME patients in his long career and has made home visits to many severely ill patients. In 2001, the Danish Ministry of Health wrote that Dr Isager was the Danish doctor with the most experience of ME and had about 250 patients at that time.
March 2011: Karina is seen by another doctor with experience in severe ME. This doctor reconfirmed the ME diagnosis. Karina’s parents worked with her new GP, with Dr Isager, and a nutritionist to try to give Karina the best treatment possible at home. Gut function tests were sent to the USA to try to find a treatment for Karina. There is no hospital in Denmark equipped to take care of severely ill ME patients.
A request was made to have a saline IV started in the home but the county did not cooperate. Karina received a special protein powder and a high iron diet to ensure her nutritional needs were met. Many ME patients do not tolerate iron supplements in pill form.
June 2011: Karina’s mother is hired by the county to be Karina’s caregiver.
May 2012: Sundhedssytrelsen (Danish National Board of Health) contacts two psychiatrists, Per Fink and Jens Nørbæk, about Karina. Karina’s case was presented to them over the phone and Jens Nørbæk stated that Karina must be in an insane-like state: “sindsyglignende tilstand.” These two psychiatrists are considered to have no knowledge of severe ME.
Based on these conversations, the Danish Board of Health put pressure on Karina’s GP to declare Karina psychologically ill and to sign commitment papers. Karina’s GP refused because Karina was not mentally ill. Karina’s GP then resigned as her doctor.
The Danish National Board of Health contacted Per Fink, lead clinician at The Research Clinic for Functional Disorders and Psychosomatics, and asked him to take charge of Karina’s case. The case was then given to another psychiatrist from the clinic, Nils Balle Christensen.
Karina and her parents did not want Dr Christensen as Karina’s doctor. They knew about the research clinic and did not feel the doctors had sufficient knowledge about ME to undertake Karina’s medical care. Karina and her parents said many times they did not want the psychiatric treatment that Dr Christensen was offering. They hired a private doctor to assist Dr Isager in Karina’s care. (Dr Isager is retired.)
February 12, 2013: Karina is forcibly removed from her home and put in the hospital under Dr Christensen’s care. She is now forced to receive the “treatment” she does not want.
May 12, 2013: For three months, Karina’s parents have been denied visits to see their daughter; denied documentation; denied answers to their questions.
The Research Clinic for Functional Disorders and Psychosomatics, Aarhus, Denmark
The Danish government has put this clinic in charge of taking care of all ME patients in Denmark. The doctors employed here are primarily psychiatrists or psychologists. The centre has spent millions of dollars working to create a new diagnosis, Bodily Distress Syndrome (BDS).
For information on Bodily Distress Syndrome see Part Two of Dx Revision Watch Post:
ICD-11 Beta draft and BDD, Per Fink and Bodily Distress Syndrome
They want to place ME and other illnesses like Fibromyalgia, IBS, chronic pelvic pains and PMS under their new diagnosis. Read about BDS, here, in English:
The clinic is working hard to get their new diagnosis, Bodily Distress Syndrome, into the next version of the WHO’s ICD codes, ICD-11, under Mental and behavioural disorders. See: ICD-11 Beta drafting platform: Chapter 5: Bodily Distress Disorder: Mild; Moderate; Severe
All treatment at this clinic is on a research basis and all patients receive the same treatment: cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), graded exercise therapy (GET) and antidepressants. The ME Association says it has contact with many patients who have ME, Fibromyalgia, IBS, etc but when they are referred to this clinic by their GP, their previous diagnosis is ignored and they are given a psychiatric diagnosis.
The ME Association states it has many examples of patients who have been pressured by their doctors and case workers to go to this clinic. Patients have reported that their doctors or caseworkers believe this clinic has a proven treatment for ME, Fibromyalgia, IBS etc, so benefits will be denied unless this research treatment is tried.
In the 14 years for which the clinic has been open, they only have documentation that they have seen 74 patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. Karina is the first severely ill ME patient that the clinic has had contact with.