Medical neglect is when a parent fails to obtain necessary medical care for the child. In a New York Case, the court ruled the father neglected the child when he failed to obtain medical care where his child, only two-months old, was “screaming, pale, acting strangely, vomiting, refusing to eat, and displaying seizure-like symptoms.” In such a case, the court reasoned that it was completely unreasonable for the parent to fail to obtain the necessary treatment given the circumstances.
Although the above example is a clear-cut case, if religious beliefs are involved, the issues can become quite a bit more complicated. In some states, like Delaware, neglect is present where a parent believes in good faith that the “power of prayer” will sufficiently treat the medical needs of the child.
In New York, generally, courts have found neglect to be present where a parent seeks to avoid medical treatment for religious beliefs. In one such case, the court found by a preponderance of the evidence, that neglect was present where the child’s physical condition was in imminent danger of being impaired as a result of the failure of his parent to exercise a minimum degree of care in supplying him with adequate medical care. In this case, the court granted the petition and standing in the place of the parents, parens patriae, the court ordered the life-saving medical treatment without the parents’ consent.