LAWYERS LETTER TO M. D. ANDERSON -- STOP INTERFERING IN THE WERNECKE'S AFFAIRS
Laurel Hyle, J.D.
Associate Legal Officer
M.D. Anderson Cancer Center
1515 Holcombe Boulevard, Box 537
Houston, Texas 77030
RE: Concerning: Katie Wernecke
Continuing Medical Interference
Dear Ms. Hyle:
As you know, this firm represents Dr. Edward and Michele Wernecke, the parents of Katie Wernecke. It also represents Katie Wernecke. Katie Wernecke was for a time an involuntary patient at M.D. Anderson, under the auspices of Dr. Wells.
As you are aware, on November 2, 2005, the court ordered Katie returned to the care and custody of her parents, finding no just cause to have Katie remain in DFPS custody or under the auspices of your doctors.
In fact, the court considered a specific request by DFPS to require Katie to undergo continuing diagnosis and/or treatment at M.D. Anderson hospital, and the court expressly rejected that request, releasing Katie to the care of her parents and fully restoring their rights to make all future medical decisions for Katie without conditions or restrictions of any kind. See transcript of hearings dated 10/31/05 and 11/2/05, and order of dismissal dated 11/2/05. [YOU CAN FIND THE CONTENTS OF THE NOV 2 COURT ORDER ON THE NOV 2 BLOG ENTRY BELOW]
This decision by the court was based, at least in part, on Dr. Wells’ testimony that Katie only had a 20 to 25% chance of survival if she underwent the M.D. Anderson-prescribed treatment. See Newmark v. Williams, 588 A.2d 1108 (Del. 1991)(holding that parents’ desire to refuse cancer treatment for child with a 40% chance of survival was justified and lawful).
The court was informed that the Werneckes intended to treat Katie with different treatment at a clinic in Kansas, and that treatment took place right on schedule and is ongoing at this time. See In re Hofbauer, 47 N.Y.2d 648, 393 N.E.2d 1009, 419 N.Y.S.2d 936 (1979)(holding that parents, not state bureaucrats or doctors, are the proper decision-makers when alternative treatments are possible for their children’s medical care).
It has now come to my attention that Dr. Wells is continuing to attempt to intermeddle in Katie’s medical decisions and care. He has also made thinly-veiled threats to make a complaint to DFPS if Dr. Wernecke does not bring Katie in for additional consultation and/or treatment, even though any such complaint would be completely groundless, unethical, and would subject him to liability—potentially even jeopardizing his medical license—for making knowingly-false statements to a government agency.
You might also take a look at 45 C.F.R. 46.116, since Dr. Wells has already subjected Katie to experimental treatments without informing her or her guardian that Katie was the subject of an ongoing clinical trial, and he did not fully inform them of their rights or options (including the option to abstain) regarding that treatment. Hasn’t Dr. Wells already walked as close to the edge of that cliff as he dares to tread?
Dr. Wells has also blatantly lied to Dr. Wernecke, stating that “Katie will die” without his recommended radiation treatment, even though recent scans do not indicate the necessity for such treatment and there is no way possible for Dr. Wells to even know whether Katie will or will not die without this treatment. Dr. Wells does not even know Katie’s current medical condition, so his predictions and diagnoses are wholly uninformed. Such statements thus constitute professional irresponsibility, at the very least.
Such Draconian statements are clearly false and merely represent improper attempts to further coerce the Werneckes into accepting additional harmful, unnecessary, experimental, and unwanted treatments. And, Dr. Wells has made these false statements and unfounded threats even though Dr. Wernecke has repeatedly told Dr. Wells that Katie is now under the care of different medical doctors, and Dr. Wells’s services are no longer required. Please tell Dr. Wells to cease and desist from further pestering the Werneckes.
To the extent this was not made clear before, Dr. Wells and all other M.D. Anderson doctors have been released (read: “fired”) as Katie’s doctors and their services are no longer needed or wanted in this matter. In addition, please tell all other personnel at M.D. Anderson to leave the Werneckes alone.
M.D. Anderson and DFPS have already done quite enough damage to Katie and this family, and no further interference or unsolicited contact will be tolerated. Failure to abide this demand will be met with an immediate lawsuit against your hospital and all personnel involved seeking injunctive relief and damages designed to secure the Werneckes’ peace, enforce their constitutional parental rights, and protect their court-ordered liberty interests.
Please call if you have any questions about this matter.
James A. Pikl