“No, you don’t need to,” Mr. Bryce replies. He remains polite, saying “No, thank you” when he’s asked to come out of his home.
An emergency court order was issued, allowing the police to take the child into custody. The officers asked the family to leave their home and take the child to the hospital, the video shows. After two more unsuccessful attempts at knocking at the door, they reminded Mr. Bryce that they had a court order and broke down the door, nearly four hours after they arrived at the home.
Though neither parent was arrested, they were each charged with one count of child abuse after an investigation. Two of the children, including the youngest, were taken by ambulance to the hospital, and the third was taken by the Department of Child Safety, according to the police.
All three children remain in separate foster care placements, according to The Arizona Republic.
Dr. Diekema, the emergency room doctor in Seattle, said that he personally encounters parents refusing a treatment plan “maybe every month or two,” meaning it likely happens in his hospital on a weekly basis. But there are procedures in place to stave off a hospital visit escalating into a child custody battle.
Sometimes, he said, a compromise can be found on a less aggressive form of treatment that is acceptable to the doctor; other times, another doctor at the hospital can give a second opinion, which some parents find more comforting.
Dr. Diekema, who is also a bioethics professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine, said that he tries to avoid coercion when he can. He recalled telling a patient’s parents, “I hate to say this, but I have to let you know that if you walk out of this emergency department, without agreeing to something that makes me comfortable, I’ll have to call child protective services.”
He said that the doctor in Arizona would have been obligated to call the authorities if the family did not follow the clinic’s instructions.