Categories
Antivaccine nonsense Complementary and alternative medicine Medicine Politics Pseudoscience Quackery Skepticism/critical thinking

The death of Ezekiel Stephan: Quackery and antivaccine views go hand in hand

About a month and a half ago, I became aware of the case of Ezekiel Stephan, a 19-month-old Canadian toddler living in Alberta who in 2012 developed bacterial meningitis. Unfortunately for Ezekiel, his parents, David and Collet Stephan, were believers in alternative medicine. They didn’t take Ezekiel to a real doctor. Instead, they relied on herbal remedies and consulted a naturopath while their child suffered and died. As a result, they were put on trial for failing to provide the necessaries of life for Ezekiel. During the trial, they raised money by appealing to the worst quacks, claiming they were being persecuted in a plot by the Canadian government to impose forced vaccination.

Last night, after a long trial, a verdict was rendered:

A packed Lethbridge, Alta., courtroom erupted with emotion on Tuesday afternoon, after two parents accused of letting their son die from bacterial meningitis were found guilty.

David Stephan, 32, and Collet Stephan, 36, were charged a year after their nearly 19-month-old son Ezekiel died in March 2012, under Section 215 of the Criminal Code which deals with “failing to provide the necessaries of life.”

There was a gasp in the courtroom as the decision from the four-man, eight-woman jury came down. People in the courtroom’s gallery started to cry and Collet Stephan broke out sobbing uncontrollably while her husband and others rubbed her back.

The Stephans will not be held in custody at this time, but will have to return to court on June 13 when the date for sentencing will be set.

One of the reasons I got into blogging about quackery is because of how often I’ve seen stories of children victimized by it. I might repeat till I’m blue in the face that I firmly believe that a competent adult has the right to pursue any medical treatment he wishes, even if it’s quackery or even if he decides to accept no treatment at all. Obviously the flip side of that is that quacks do not have the right to lie to these competent adults; that, as far as I’m concerned, is fraud. Children, however, are different. Because they are not considered competent to make their own medical decisions, they rely on the judgment of their parents. Those parents have a duty to provide adequate medical care for their children.

Of course, parents are generally given wide latitude for making decisions about what is best for their children, and great deference is generally granted to parental authority and parental “rights.” It is this deference that can become a problem in protecting children from their parents’ belief in quackery when they become seriously ill. The example that I tend to cite most frequently comes from Philadelphia and the case of Herbert and Catherine Schaible. The Schaibles were a couple who chose prayer instead of antibiotics to treat their two year old son Kent in 2009. Kent ultimately died from his bacterial pneumonia.

In spite of this horrific failure of parental duty, thanks to the deference courts have towards parental rights and, of course, religion, the Schaibles didn’t lose their surviving children, nor were they sentenced to prison. Instead, the Schaibles were sentenced to ten years’ probation, during which they, in essence, promised to take their surviving children to a doctor when they became ill; in other words, they promised to be good parents. That meant that four years later, in 2013, they were able to do the same thing again when their seven month old son Brandon Scott became ill in the same way. He, too, died of bacterial pneumonia because his parents chose prayer over antibiotics.

So when I learned of the Stephans’ trial, I wasn’t particularly optimistic that they would be convicted. I realize that Canada is a different country with a different legal system, but I know from past cases that it suffers from the same tendency that the US legal system does to defer to quackery-loving parents. I wasn’t sure what verdict to expect, but I wouldn’t have been surprised if the Stephans had been acquitted. Not in the least. I can only guess that perhaps some of the horrific evidence of just how much Ezekiel suffered untreated before the end, with accounts of how he could no longer drink on his own and was being given fluids through an eyedropper and how his body was so stiff that he couldn’t be placed in a car seat.

As I read about this case, I noticed something once again that I’ve seen time and time again. David and Collet Stephan are antivaccine as hell. They didn’t vaccinate their children, and, as I mentioned before, David Collet tried to blame his prosecution on a government plot to bring about universal forced vaccination.

Unfortunately, antivaccine beliefs very frequently go hand-in-hand with the sort of quackery-filled beliefs held by people like the Stephans. Similarly, the medical neglect antivaccine parents subject their children to by failing to protect them against serious diseases can sometimes presage more serious medical neglect, like that of the Stephans. There are many reasons for this. Certainly, the distrust of big pharma that feeds a belief in quackery like naturopathy contributes, given that vaccines are pharmaceutical products, but that’s not enough. Also certainly rejection of modern scientific medicine as being “unnatural,” coupled with a belief that “natural” is inherently better, even the attribution of magical levels of efficacy to “natural remedies.” Not surprisingly, such people often believe that the immunity produced by vaccination is somehow “unnatural” and therefore inferior to “natural immunity.”

Indeed, antivaccine beliefs seem to be part of pretty much every form of quackery you can imagine. Homeopaths tend to be antivaccine, believing that homeopathic nosodes can produce the same sorts of results. Chiropractors are heavily antivaccine, which is not surprising given that chiropractic rests on a foundation of prescientific vitalism. And, of course, naturopaths are very much antivaccine. Indeed, for some naturopaths, much of their business is based on the belief that vaccines cause autism and other neurodevelopmental conditions. They sell various nostrums to “detoxify” autistic children from the “toxins” in the vaccines. Some of them even use chelation therapy, even though chelation therapy can be dangerous and, in some cases, even kill. Indeed, the naturopath whom Collet Stephan consulted about Ezekiel and from whom she got some sort of herbal concoction to use to treat him, Tracy Tannis of the Lethbridge Naturopathic Medical Clinic, offers IV chelation therapy, along with a cornucopia of other quackery (such as ozone therapy), as I mentioned before.

It’s pretty clear from what I’ve read about the trial that Tannis provided Collet Stephan with an herbal remedy to treat her child without having examined Ezekiel. At the time I couldn’t help but observe how naturopaths have been so strongly lobbying for laws that allow them to function as primary care providers, the equivalent of family practice physicians, internists, or pediatricians. Yet, Tannis, even though she didn’t actually see Ezekiel, provides us with a compelling reason why naturopaths should never be given that status. When faced with a report of a child who was ill and who might have meningitis, Tannis provided an herbal remedy to the child’s mother without having done most basic thing a real physician is obligated to do before treating a serious disease, which is to examine the patient.

Then, of course, naturopathy is a belief system that is infused to its very core with antivaccine beliefs. Very rare indeed is a pro-vaccine naturopath. Indeed, the one naturopath I’ve found who claims to be pro-vaccine revealed herself to have some antivaccine proclivities when examined more closely. Indeed, that one self-proclaimed pro-vaccine naturopath claimed that there were naturopaths who are “vocal supporters of rigidly following the CDC schedule.” Now, personally, whenever I come across a claim like this, I always say that I’d love to meet these naturopaths who try to out-Offit Paul Offit. I’ve always been disappointed, as I’ve never encountered a naturopath who advocates “rigidly following the CDC schedule.” Ever. And I’ve looked. If they exist, they appear not to blog or maintain websites. Whenever I see what naturopaths have to say about vaccines, it’s either a whole lot of easily shot down antivaccine tropes, or it’s a mush, wishy-washy false equivalence between the antivaccine and pro-science-based medicine viewpoint.

There’s more promising news, too. It turns out that Tracy Tannis is facing an investigation after the parents’ conviction in response to a letter by 43 Canadian physicians echoing my thoughts on this whole case:

By any objective measure of a healthcare professional licensed to care for children Dr. Tannis did not meet the standard of care. According to what has been given as evidence in the Stephan trial, Dr. Tannis did not physically examine Ezekiel, who was so stiff from meningeal inflammation that he could not sit in his car seat when his parents took him to the Lethbridge Naturopathic Medical Clinic. Dr. Tannis has stated that she did not communicate with Collet Stephan, yet two other people have given statements that Dr. Tannis did in fact discuss viral meningitis with Collet, and gave her echinacea anyway. At no point did Dr. Tannis advise Collet that a lumbar puncture (typically performed by an emergency or pediatric physician) is the only way to distinguish between viral and bacterial meningitis. It’s unclear if Dr. Tannis is aware that bacterial meningitis is fatal if not treated with antibiotics and can cause permanent brain damage if treatment is not initiated promptly.

Regardless of how much direct communication occurred between the Stephans and Dr. Tannis, they left the Lethbridge Naturopathic Medical Clinic with an echinacea tincture they felt had been recommended by a registered naturopath. Dr. Tannis has stated that she was aware a woman was in her clinic that day requesting a treatment for a child under the age of 2. She was involved in some way in the sale of this medication yet never examined the child it was intended for. It is up to the CNDA to determine to what degree Dr. Tannis engaged with the Stephans about their very sick toddler, and to what extent she was aware that they thought he had viral meningitis. She has stated in court that the Stephans simply purchased an over the counter herbal remedy, yet they chose to go to a naturopathic clinic to make this purchase. If patients are drawn to buying treatments from a clinic rather than a health food store it is because they have a greater sense of security in doing so. That security comes with an attendant responsibility on the part of the clinic.

The degree of responsibility that Dr. Tannis bears for the tragic outcome Ezekiel Stephan suffered is a matter for the CNDA to explore and publicly address.

Exactly. If you want to be a physician, then be a doctor. Don’t just play at it. You can’t have it both ways. If you’re a doctor, you can’t go around selling herbal remedies as a treatment for suspected meningitis without taking responsibility and examining the patient and doing an appropriate workup. It’s called professionalism. Live it. Learn it. Love it. Oh, wait. I’m talking about naturopaths. They can’t and they won’t.

Unfortunately, upon reading about the investigation being opened by the College of Naturopathic Doctors of Alberta (CNDA), my thoughts immediately echoed those of Britt Hermes, the naturopath who realized that she had entered a profession rooted in quackery and left naturopathy. My first thought was that the CNDA will likely find that Tannis did nothing wrong. The reason, of course, is that there is no naturopathic standard of care—for anything. How can there be? Naturopathy isn’t based in science; pretty much anything goes. If you don’t believe me, I will simply remind you again that The One Quackery To Rule Them All, homeopathy, is an integral part of naturopathy. It’s a large part of the curriculum in naturopathy schools, and the NPLEX, the naturopathic licensure exam, tests freshly minted naturopaths on homeopathy along with all the other quackery. Basically, you can’t have naturopathy without homeopathy. Hermes, knowing more about naturopathy than I, proposes another reason why Tannis likely has nothing to worry about:

I suspect the CNDA will find no wrongdoing, not because Tannis sold an herbal product to Ezekiel’s mother who intended to use it to treat his meningitis. Rather, the CNDA will probably close the case because naturopaths were only licensed in Alberta months after Ezekiel died. Therefore, the college has no jurisdiction over Tannis’s actions at that time because she and other naturopaths in Alberta were not yet licensed.

Of course, Tannis herself isn’t the problem. It’s naturopathy itself. The licensing of naturopaths legitimizes their quackery, making it easier for irresponsible quackery-loving parents like the Stephans to medically neglect their children.

Naturopathy is quackery. No quackery is too quacky to be rejected by naturopaths, who embrace homeopathy, acupuncture, energy medicine, chelation therapy, intravenous vitamin C, applied kinesiology, and many more. The world view from which naturopathy springs, namely beliefs in vitalism and that nature is always better than “artificial” or “scientific” medicine (hint: it ain’t), is not unique to naturopaths. It’s the same world view that drives parents like David and Collet Stephan to treat their dying child with “natural” herbal remedies instead of taking their child to a real doctor before it was too late. It’s the same world view that leads people to say things like this in response to the conviction of the Stephans:

Couple that magical thinking at the heart of alternative medicine like naturopathy and embraced by the Stephans with the all too common view that sees children more as property than independent beings for whom parents are but stewards, and tragic cases like that of Ezekiel Stephan are the result. As tragic as his case is, it’s a good thing that this publicity surrounding this trial is reminding people what can happen when parents rely on quackery instead of medicine.

ADDENDUM: Steve Novella has also discussed this case.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

194 replies on “The death of Ezekiel Stephan: Quackery and antivaccine views go hand in hand”

Excellent result.

I presume they will appeal?

What of their other children?

What are the odds that CNDA is actually going to do anything? Any negative finding would mean they would have to admit to the quackery of their entire profession after all.

Whenever one of these tragic cases comes up, there are always people urging leniency because “they have already suffered enough with the death of their child”. Bullshit. That’s exactly the same argument as in the old joke about the guy who murders both his parents and asks for leniency because he’s an orphan. Besides, one of the purposes of the law is deterrence. If the Stephans get a harsh sentence and have their other kids taken away, and this encourages even one person to get their sick kid treated with real medicine out of fear of conviction, it will be well worth it.

They are guilty. But unrepentant. I hope that is taken into consideration at sentencing.

43 MDs from Canada wrote a joint letter to the CNDA. Publicly the CNDA cannot ignore it, but I’ll wager as already noted not much will come of it. It will be similar to when the Arizona Board of Osteopathy refused to do anything (despite 38 separate complaints) to quack “paleo cardiologist” Jack Wolfson when he was unprofessionally viciously (and very publicly on national news) anti-vaccine during a measles outbreak in Arizona. Somehow the board found Wolfson proclaiming medically dangerous advice publicly as a licensed physician was completely protected from professional sanction by his First Amendment right to free speech. Although Tannis is clearly guilty of malpractice by treating without examining, I suspect the CDNA will find some similar wiggle clause, especially given the letter came from non-naturopaths.

I have followed this case from the beginning, and it is clear the Crown has chosen to make an example of these people and frankly it is about time. Canada has Universal Healthcare, so there wasn’t any reason at all why these parents should not have had their child seen by a legitimate medical professional, other than an ideological one. I suspect more heads will roll in this case before it is over. We will see what the Crown’s position is during pre-sentencing arguments in June.

It should be noted here that malpractice and misconduct are generally considered to be two different things. Malpractice includes things like cognitive errors that harm patients and that do not rise to the level of misconduct. Plus, in the realm of malpractice, there are no consequences unless a patient or a patient’s family files a lawsuit. Misconduct, however, only requires a regulatory body to notice and take action, and the consequences can be more than just financial.

This naturopath, in my opinion, is clearly guilty of misconduct. She did not see the patient, and if she had, one would hope that she would have immediately realized that a trip to the ER was necessary. I wonder if that hope is misplaced. It’s hard to know.

Although nothing would make me happier than seeing that quack naturopath go down, I doubt it will happen.

Naturopaths are licensed in Alberta, however unlike MDs, RNs etc. there is essentially NO standard of care that their actions/non-actions can be measured against.

Given the victim and entitlement mentality of the Stephans over killing their own son, my bets are on them doing a runner before sentencing.

I wonder if in the long run it wouldn’t be actually better if CNDA were to try and sweep the whole thing under the rug. Depending how much they weasel about it, the inability or unwillingness to take Tannis to task could convince future lawmakers that licensing Naturopaths was a mistake or it could be used to dissuade such attempts in other places.

On the other hand, they could spin it to further legitimize themselves. If they make a big show of how Tannis was unfit to be Naturopath and make big deal of the large, “formal” misconduct – failing to see the patient, doing her work without proper thoroughness and at the same time taking focus away from the lack of scientific base for any actions she could have taken… Well it could make for a decent PR for Naturopathy.

And we can be sure, that if they were to do something it won’t be admitting that she lacked the proper ability, rather they’d blame her for misapplying all that “life saving Naturopathic treatments” due to personal laziness…

I agree completely with your comments about Tannis. As a real physician, I never, ever give medical advice without establishing a relationship with a patient. If someone calls my office to make an appointment and tries to start discussing symptoms over the phone, my receptionist is instructed to stop the patient, remind him or her that she is not the doctor, and all complaints need to be addressed with the doctor. If it is something that can’t wait, they need to proceed to the emergency room.

I’m glad you referenced the Schaibles. The Stephans love their children. They just love their ideology more. I have no doubt that they’d do the very same thing, all over again.

Mr. Delphine and I became parents late in the game, after spending our lives doing pretty much what we wanted to do. Probably the most difficult adjustment has been dealing with the fact that it’s no longer about us. That’s the thing with David and Collet. This was never about Ezekiel.

Sentencing is in June. I doubt they’ll get the full 5 years. But I still feel as though some measure of justice was served yesterday. I feel sorry for the Stephans other children.

When Delphinette was <2 years old, we were in NY when she developed an ear infection. I knew what it was because a. she was grabbing/bending the offending ear and crying "eaaah!" b. she'd recently had a cold and c. she'd already had several bouts of otitis media.

We put her in the stroller and walked to NY Presbyterian. Do you think I could just say, "look, I'm her mother, and I know what this is, and a couple of days of Ceftin will clear this right up, so no need to examine her, just write me a scrip?"

Naturopaths are licensed in Alberta, however unlike MDs, RNs etc. there is essentially NO standard of care that their actions/non-actions can be measured against.

I would expect that a naturopath who developed a habit of sleeping with his patients would lose his license, as is the case for MDs and such. That technically qualifies as a code of professional conduct. But yes, the licensing is an implicit guarantee that the practitioner will follow best practices in treating patients. The situation with naturopaths is like allowing a civil engineer to build a highway bridge out of balsa wood–which of course a licensed engineer would never do. The implicit guarantee that a licensed naturopath won’t do the medical equivalent has nothing to back it up. It’s just an oral promise which, as Sam Goldwyn would remind us, isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.

#9 Science Mom
“Given the victim and entitlement mentality of the Stephans over killing their own son, my bets are on them doing a runner before sentencing.”

The Crown asked their passports be taken but the judge refused. The Stephans moved to BC from Alberta. I wondered if this was to avoid the removal of the other children. Hopefully social services will act quickly for the children’s sake.

Yeah, I was going to mention the bit about the passports. Why the judge refused to take the Stephans’ passports, I’ll never understand. Now, basically nothing’s stopping them from leaving the country.

Finally a reasonable outcome, but I’m afraid that it won’t have much effect on folks who believe in the quack methodologies. Although our healthcare system is universal and there’s no good reason for this family to have not used the healthcare system, there are systematic problems in our healthcare system that make this sort of thing nearly impossible to stop. While having universal healthcare provides healthcare to all, it also has the effect of reducing the overall quality of healthcare. We have shortages of doctors and diagnostic tools all over the country. The GPs we do have are often limited to roughly 7 minutes a session (as told to me by my GP) to speak with patients, so there isn’t much time to delve into anything. Most of the time we’re provided referrals to specialists who can provide more attention, but you’ll have to wait 6 months or more to see them. Unlike the average GP, a naturopath or other quack can spend a heck of a lot of time with a patient, bill their private insurer and the patient comes out of the session feeling satisfied. How can a stressed healthcare system compete with that? Now, in Ontario, doctors are having their funding cut because of a handful of MDs bilking the system for huge amounts of money. It’s only going to get worse and this ruling will only provide fuel for the “alt-med” pundits.

The Naturopath College in Alberta is only investigating Tannis because of the letter the physicians wrote is being taken as a complaint. Given the circumstances of this case and the publicity going back years, one would have that a diligent regulatory organization would have already completed an investigation.

Despite some of the valid criticism of Canada’s healthcare, hubby’s relatives have never been denied emergency health care. One of his cousin’s gave birth to a very premature baby girl on Vancouver Island north of Nanaimo. That child was taken by medical helicopter to the City of Vancouver. (That child is now an adult, and has been served by special services long with health care through out her life.)

Even in Alberta that child would have received immediate medical care if the parents had high tailed it to a hospital the moment their neighbor uttered the word “meningitis.”

Five years isn’t enough for the two of them. I doubt that they’ll flee, since it’s doubtful anyone is going to be interested in dealing with these two nuts in their borders but then again, only time will tell.

Cameron, Ezekiel had never in his life seen a physician. These aren’t folks who were jaded by the system and rejected it (though they did try to play that card at one point with “we thought we’d get sent home if we took him to the ER” bullpucky) — they are people who believe that their entire ethos is superior to the mainstream.

7 minutes is a long time for a GP to be talking to most patients, most of whom present for reasons that don’t require 7 minutes of conversation. I think GPs need to do a better job of recognizing addiction/mental health issues, but that’s a whole other ball of wax. I don’t need 7 minutes of conversation to diagnose and treat my URI or UTI, or refer out for my sciatica. With that said, in my experience GPs and NPs tend to spend more time with children than they do with adults, even for garden-variety ailments.

I agree with you that our healthcare system has major issues. But having lived in both the UK and USA, I maintain that on the whole, ours is as good, if not better in some areas. We are a geographically huge country and we tend to fail our most remote and vulnerable. The Stephans didn’t not take Ezekiel to a doctor because they were looking for a different opinion. They didn’t take him to a doctor because their ideology mattered more than his life. This little guy was tremendously sick and they knew it and they let it happen.

OT but is theatrical, grandstanding, attention wh0ring by a well-known woo-meiser ever TRULY OT @ RI?

It seems that dear old Mikey Boy, in his tireless efforts to save the public from SBM’s dastardly deeds, is now donating free vitamin C to “victims’ of cancer care who may have been injured by Dr Fata and others.

Unlike the average GP, a naturopath or other quack can spend a heck of a lot of time with a patient, bill their private insurer and the patient comes out of the session feeling satisfied. How can a stressed healthcare system compete with that?

A. I can’t get much relief from throwing up during pregnancy and I feel as though my GP is minimizing my plight. So I turn to acupuncture. I feel like I’m doing something, I like the practitioner, who is thoughtful and spends a half hour with me, and I feel better.

B. Collet Stephan has no antenatal care. Not one blood test or ultrasound. Delivers at home with a family friend, a registered nurse. Never takes her child to the doctor, not once.

I get what your’e trying to say — but do you see the difference, Cameron?

Slightly O/T, but the picture of that beautiful little smiling boy makes me sad and angry every time I see it. I really hope everyone responsible for this horrible incident gets theirs.

If the CDNA tries to weasel out of the case through the fact that the death occurred before licensing came in Alberta (the jurisdiction issue), then the Alberta College of Physicians and Surgeons could take up the case, and pursue a practice of medicine without permit type of investigation, if they have the will to do so.

@17 Cameron

The GPs we do have are often limited to roughly 7 minutes a session (as told to me by my GP) to speak with patients, so there isn’t much time to delve into anything.

On an number of occasions, I accompanied my mother to her GP (rural Nova Scotia). The doctor spent as much time with my mother as my mother needed and even spent time with me discussing the likelihood of my inheriting my mother’s condition and what steps I should take to minimize my risk. And I’m not even Canadian.

My PCP here in the U.S. who is paid by my HMO, has also always spent as much time with me as I’ve felt I needed.

I realize anecdotes aren’t evidence but neither I nor anyone I know has described an experience where they felt their regular doctor consistently shortchanged them on time. I sometime feel that this is another excuse used by people who are trying to rationalize woo.

Of course, being the kind of person I am, I’d rather have 7 minutes of a properly trained person prescribing the right treatment than an hour of chitchat with someone sticking needles in my for no good reason.

I sometime feel that this is another excuse used by people who are trying to rationalize woo.

Yes. I witnessed this and even did it myself, as an old fertility patient. It goes like this — I don’t like hearing I’m old and that’s why I’m not getting pregnant, because a. it hurts and b. there’s nothing that can change it. But that nice acupuncture lady up the road, she listens, and she believes in me. She has the answers I’m seeking when the answers you’re giving me aren’t what I want to hear. All for the low, low price of $100 a treatment.

The Stephans moved to BC from Alberta.

I don’t know about Canadian law, but in the US this is generally grounds for revoking bail. One of the factors used in determining whether to grant bail is flight risk. I’d say that moving to another province (especially from an area not close to the border–Lethbridge is nowhere near the BC border) demonstrates that the Stephans are flight risks. Confiscation of passports in cases like this should be routine.

I would hope that the Crown at least had the presence of mind to alert US authorities so that the Stephans could be placed on a watch list. Whether the watch list would be enforced for people of the Stephans’ ethnicity is another question.

You might find the buzz surrounding this on the Not-So-Thinking Moms’ sight intriguing. In a post clearly meant to elicit sympathy for the Stephans, even many of the commentators aren’t having it. Now that’s saying something.

Eric — In discussions with colleagues, I have taken to describing faculty members who are “hot” and might be headhunted by other schools as “flight risks”.

The subject has been raised over on Dr Novella’s post — did the family friend who advised the Stephans that Ezekiel might have meningitis have a duty, as an RN, to follow up on the situation and determine if the parents were taking appropriate steps?

(can you imagine what Lilady would have done if she were this RN?)

Delphine: 7 minutes is a long time for a GP to be talking to most patients, most of whom present for reasons that don’t require 7 minutes of conversation.

When I had Bell’s Palsy, I spent about ten minutes in each appointment- the first one was Urgent Care, the second one was with the neurologist. And three or four minutes of that first appointment were just reassurances that I hadn’t had a stroke.

Eric @30

Lethbridge is only about 165 Km or 100 miles from the BC border, and they lived in Glenwood AB which is roughly half way to BC. David Stephan worked at his father’s company, Truehope, located in Raymond AB, about 75 Km from Glenwood. Short answer to moving, as a general rule, Canada does not have laws where an issue becomes Federal in the USA, as for example with inter-state transportation of stolen goods. Policing structure is also somewhat different. Rest assured that most probably border services is aware of their situation, and entry to the USA would be denied based on the conviction alone.

Also note that the June 13 date is only a set date for a sentencing date. Kind of a “when is everybody free” to get going on sentencing procedures. My guess, no sentence until late August or September. On the dark side of it, I read the judge as having a lenient view as to punishment when the passports were not revoked or surrendered.

@AR

It has somewhat restored my faith in humanity reading the comments on the Thinking Moms’ posts. Basic human decency trumps ideology.

Eric Lund: “I would expect that a naturopath who developed a habit of sleeping with his patients would lose his license,”
No way. He’s just practicing Chakra Energy Healing. Anyone well versed in naturopathy will recognize it in an instant.

The ‘fix’ was in on this case from the get go, as the Crown and the Canadian press chose to ignore the elephant in the room. David Stephan is a ‘Vice President” and “Director of Marketing” of the Stephan family business, a disgusting supplement scam operation called Truehope. Ezekiel is the grandson of Tony Stephan, a ‘natural health’ con artist who makes Mike Adams look like a saint by comparison. Naturopathy should be illegal, not licensed, but it has nothing directly to do with Ezekiel Stephan’s death, and as bad as naturopathy is, Truehope is orders of magnitude worse. likely being responsible for more deaths (yes, DEATHS) than all the naturopaths in North America combined. It’s seriously fukked to read this OP – which like the press accounts of the conviction I’ve seen so far – doesn’t even mention Truehope, and repeats as ‘fact’ claims about what happened with Ezekiel that are contradicted by testimony and documents from the Stephan trial.

They consulted a naturopath while their child suffered and died. Tannis provided Collet Stephan with an herbal remedy to treat her child without having examined Ezekiel. When faced with a report of a child who was ill and who might have meningitis, Tannis provided an herbal remedy to the child’s mother without having done most basic thing a real physician is obligated to do before treating a serious disease, which is to examine the patient.

Just. Plain. Wrong. Ezekiel had been ill for a couple weeks. During that time, the Stephans were treating him with some home-brew remedies AND a ‘natural immune system booster’ sold by Truehope -– Olive Leaf Extract (OLE). A day or two before the Stephans called 911, Collet Stephan called Lethbridge Naturopathic, and asked receptionist/remedy-clerk Lexie Vataman for a recommendation for ‘something to boost the immune system’. There is no evidence any of the Stephans had ever visited this clinic, or purchased anything there before. Collet didn’t ask to speak to the ND. This is crucial. Given the autopsy results, Ezekiel would have been critically ill by then, and what Collet Stephan did is comparable to walking into a Walgreens and asking the cashier to point her toward a homeopathic cold remedy.

What happened during that phone call is in dispute. Collet apparently told Vataman that a nurse/midwife (Terrie Meynders) has taken a brief look at Ezekiel the night before, and mentioned the possibility he might be suffering from viral meningitis, and at some point in the conversation Vataman recommended an echinacea formula called BLAST. The reports aren’t definitive, but this was almost certainly Master Formulae BLAST, an OTC product sold at health food stores, which, unlike Truehope OLE, is approved by Health Canada. Among the things we don’t know is whether Vataman recommended BLAST before or after Collet mentioned meningitis.

When Vataman heard the word ‘meningitis’ she thought she should check with Tannis. Here Vataman’s and Tannis’s testimony vary dramatically. Again, the press reports are vague, but Vataman’s story appears to be that she asked Tannis if BLAST was indeed ‘an immune system booster’ WITHOUT citing the meningitis, and receiving affirmation on that query relayed that to Collet and added her own suggestion that Collet might want to take Ezekielto see a real doctor. Tannis testified that Vataman interrupted a patient session to inquire about what she should tell a woman on the phone who mentioned her infant son might have meningitis, and that she (Tannis) ordered Vataman to tell the caller to take the boy to the emergency room immediately, left her patient to accompany Vataman back to the phone and made sure Vataman delivered the message. Tannis also flatly denied recommending BLAST.

The Stephans told the RCMP and the pediatrician who filed the physicians report on Ezekiel’s death that earlier during the day he stopped breathing and flatlined, they had driven into Lethbridge to run errands, placing Ezekiel on a mattress in the back of their car as he was too stiff to get into his car seat. During that trip, among other things Collet picked up some BLAST at Lethbridge Naturopathic. It’s not clear whether the Stephans said anything suggesting they were ‘taking Ezekiel to see a naturopath’ but regardless, that’s not what they did.

Collet went into the clinic, picked up the BLAST, did not ask for anyone to examine Ezekiel, and there’s no evidence whatsoever she even mentioned that the boy was outside in the car. In fact, Tannis testified Vataman introduced her to Collet at that point, and the two spoke briefly, but she had no idea Collet was the mother who had called with the meningitis query. “I really thought that woman went to emergency.”

The Stephan’s story here is hinky to say the least. They had been treating Ezekiel for weeks with Treuhope’s allegedly superior ‘immune system booster,’ a product that <i.competes with BLAST. Ya’ think the Director of Marketing in charge of shilling OLE might know plenty about Master Formulae BLAST, including what’s in it and where it’s sold? So why would his wife call a naturopathy clinic that late in her son’s illness for a recommendation, and go to that clinic to pick up something she could get at the health food store? During the Crown’s presentation of witnesses, defense attorney Shawn Buckley tried to lay groundwork to scapegoat Tannis in Ezekiel’s death, but didn’t follow through with that at all in presenting his case, I’d guess having realized it wasn’t going to fly at all. Buckley had been Truehope’s attorney in all of it’s many legal problems with Health Canada and various lawsuits, His law practice is devoted to acting “primarily for manufacturers of Natural Health Products,” and he is “president of the Natural Health Products Protection Association (nhppa.org).” Check out that site, tinyurl.com/j8gj54m, and other hits from Googling ‘Shawn Buckley Truehope’ if you want to rage and vomit.

As for the letter from the 43 physicians:

At no point did Dr. Tannis advise Collet that a lumbar puncture (typically performed by an emergency or pediatric physician) is the only way to distinguish between viral and bacterial meningitis.

Pathetically disingenuous since she testified meningitis of any type is out of her scope of practice, and that she had Vataman instruct Collet to take Ezekiel to the emergency room.

It’s unclear if Dr. Tannis is aware that bacterial meningitis is fatal if not treated with antibiotics and can cause permanent brain damage if treatment is not initiated promptly.

It’s clear she testified she knows meningitis is a serious illness she can’t handle, and requires immediate attention by a real medical doctor..

The Stephans left the Lethbridge Naturopathic Medical Clinic with an echinacea tincture they felt had been recommended by a registered naturopath.

Maybe, but unlikely, and irrelevant anyway.

If patients are drawn to buying treatments from a clinic rather than a health food store it is because they have a greater sense of security in doing so.

Unless, maybe, if they (and their whole family) make a very cushy living selling ‘natural’ treatments promising miracle cures for serious health issues directly on the web, are so DIY in healthcare that they’ve never even visited a natuopath in their lives, discover their son near death, consult the paterfamilias about what to do, and are told to draw somebody else into this crime to give Shawn Buckley someone he can pass off some of the blame if worst comes to worst.

Two other people have given statements that Dr. Tannis did in fact discuss viral meningitis with Collet, and gave her echinacea anyway.

Citation required. The press accounts of Vataman’s testimony don’t indicate she even overheard Tannis’s brief conversation with Collet, but do note she testified her memory of these events isn’t so hot. She also has her own butt to cover. I haven’t read anything about any witnesses, and Google isn’t showing anything. So who are these two other people, and where and what are these statements?

Look, I’m not defending naturopathy. While the letter from the 43 makes some highly dubious claims, the testimony regarding Lethbridge Naturopathic’s role in Ezekiel’s death is murky enough that’s there’s justification for calling for an investigation by the CNDA. Among things I’d hope they check:
Was Collet Stephan’s call to Vataman indeed the family’s first contact with the clinic? Do Tannis’s files show any history of either prescribing natural remedies for patients presenting with symptoms of serious disease on one hand, or proper referral to medical doctors in such instances? Tannis might be able to document that she’s encountered other cases that might be meningitis and in every case said “See an MD!” if not “Go to the ER now!”. Or not.

So the bottom line for me here is what the 43 signees have NOT done. They have remained silent about Truehope. If they’re concerned about protecting the public from ‘natural remedies’ harm, that’s simply unconscionable. There’s this bit of prime WTF in the letter: “The CNDA also needs to decide whether or not it is appropriate for a naturopath to sell treatments out of their own clinic.” Uh, how is this going to help if the patients can just amble over to the health food store, toss a bottle off the self into the basket and head to the checkout counter? This crap ought to highly regulated, Truehope ought to be put out of business, and Tony Stephan ought to have every dime of his fortune paid to his victims and wind up in jail. Where the fukk is the outrage about that?

The experts on Truehope are Terry Polevoy, MD, author and mental health advocate Marvin Ross, and Ron Reinhold, a former Health Canada inspector now working as private investigator. Read this blog post by Ross on the death of Ezekiel Stephan. Now. tinyurl.com/zfur6k9

When I had Bell’s Palsy, I spent about ten minutes in each appointment- the first one was Urgent Care, the second one was with the neurologist. And three or four minutes of that first appointment were just reassurances that I hadn’t had a stroke.

What is your point here, PGP?

In the US, flight before arrest, trial, sentencing, or reporting to prison, or to avoid testifying is “unlawful flight to avoid prosecution” and is a federal crime even if no state line is crossed, under the Fugitive Felon Act (Federal fugitives come under a different title.). Often the US Marshals Service forms a joint task force with local and state law enforcement just for that purpose.
In addition, bail jumpers are relentlessly hunted for by the bail bondsman’s employees and/or freelance “bounty hunters”. If the sum at risk or the reward for return is big enough, the search will be relentless, and the searchers can get away with some things that the police can’t.

#9 Science Mom
“Given the victim and entitlement mentality of the Stephans over killing their own son, my bets are on them doing a runner before sentencing.”

Well, they’re welcome to hide out here. It rained heavily last night and the alligators are hungry.

Here’s a funny wrinkle that didn’t get much notice in the trial – the Stephans are Mormon (David is one of 10 siblings). The town they’re from, Cardston, Alberta, has been tied to Fundamentalist LDS and is about 80% Mormon. At one point, the paternal grandfather came to give a “blessing” and annoint little Ezekiel with oil.

So this makes me wonder how much of this predeliction for quack medicine in religiously based. Not all Mormons are into it, but there are some sub-sects that eschew medicine for things like energy healing and other forms of woo. I also have to wonder how much prayer was relied to to relive the little fellow. That, the family business being “nutritional supplements” that claim to cure bipolar disorder. There are just some flags that popped up for me that made me suspect this wasn’t just crunchy-granola hippiness gone off the rails.

I also imagine that the Crown prosecutors would not want to go down that road if they could avoid it. However, their concern about passports aren’t misplaced, as the Stephans may be tied into a larger FLDS network that may help them avoid imprisonment.

Speculation on my part, just things that made me go “Hmmm…”

Old Rockin’ Dave @40

In Canada, bail bondsmen and bounty hunters are illegal. It is also not legal to make a profit (or ask for compensation) from posting a bond. If not cash, there are surety bonds.

How bad is Truehope? This should give you some idea.

As the toddler lay unconscious at the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary, RCMP Cpl. Ryan Bulford conducted separate lengthy interviews with the Stephans. [David Stephan told Bulford] “And then when he was sick there, we were giving him, above and beyond that, the olive root extract, which is an antifungal, antiviral, it’s a very powerful one,”

There’s a massive journalistic fail here, as that should read Olive Leaf Extract, a product sold by (ta da!) Truehope.

the antibacterial, antifungal effects of Oleuropein are well-known and are even thought to help reduce the need for pharmaceutical antibiotics. Boost immune system function … using Truehope OLE. ,

Yup, his son is lying brain dead in a hospital, and Truehope’s Director of Marketing is pimping one of his products.

Sadmar @38

“Canadian press chose to ignore the elephant in the room”

There was a partial publication ban in effect during trial so certain things could not be reported until the jury was sequestered, which is fairly typical for Canada. More is coming out in the press now. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/stephan-david-collet-lethbridge-meningitis-police-interview-toddler-death-1.3537887

The Calgary Herald has some to say: http://calgaryherald.com/news/local-news/fortney-parents-on-trial-for-toddlers-death-take-fight-to-social-media

There is also a long history with Truehope, where their junk is legal to sell. It also includes a court case, a cabinet minster letting them off the hook on the advice of an MP who was loose with the truth, young earth creationist chiropractor by the name of Lunney, plus a Harvard prof M.D. just to add a little international flavour.

#42″ So this makes me wonder how much of this predeliction for quack medicine in religiously based. Not all Mormons are into it, but there are some sub-sects that eschew medicine for things like energy healing and other forms of woo. ”

It’s hit and miss in that area and many Mormons are into crunchy stuff. Where I am from, and where the Stephans pretrial occurred, the vaccination rates are about 40%. There’s Dutch Reform but not that many so would have to include a large number of Mormons. I remember at a Mormon friend’s house the buckwheat pancakes and no sugar. This was remarkable in those days, almost exotic in 1980s rural southern Alberta.

I also have to wonder how much prayer was relied to to relive the little fellow.

The grandfather changed his testimony in court. 2012 testimony the reason he came over was to pray over Ezekiel. 2016 I came over for business, prayer afterthought.
I

On March 13, Ezekiel’s mother performed a medical test on him called Brudzinski’s sign of meningitis — where a patient’s severe neck stiffness causes their hips and knees to flex when the neck is flexed — which she had learned from the website, WebMD.

The test seemed to be another indication he had meningitis, she told the officer.

The sheer fucking arrogance of these people beggars belief.

Well, as far as Brudzinski’s sign, I’ve used that and similar signs to ascertain how quickly a patient got to see (or even if some patients got to see) doctor in military clinics.
But, in our team’s case, it was triage, not deciding whether or not to even bother seeking definitive treatment at all.
When our kids were sick, each and every one of our team members took their kids to the doctor.

So, to be honest, I’m not certain if it’s arrogance or sheer willful ignorance. Regardless, it reached criminal levels, per the decision of a jury.

You might find the buzz surrounding this on the Not-So-Thinking Moms’ sight intriguing.

I’m not finding it. There’s a choice comment from the AoA commentariat, though:

“Yesterday the parents of Ezekiel Stephan were found guilty by the Canadian system of justice. The jury apparently found no reasonable doubt by the fact that the child had viral meningitis as declared by Dr. Anny Sauvageau, [former] Chief Medical Officer. I read witness accounts that found the judge Jerke to be very obviously biased in this case. G[]d help us all that we will have to run our child to the doctor with so much as a sniffle and that the medical system is not held to the same standard. I hope there is an appeal and re trial. It also makes me wonder if the medical board will now find more complaints and suing. I know a family who are victims of a medical ‘mistake’ and they will not play nice, especially when this kind of travesty is allowed to happen. Yes, be very afraid of socialized medicine America.”

Found what I was referring to in 46. Get a box of tissues, large popcorn bowl, and check if analgesics / tranquilizers are on hand. It is the judgement of The Honourable Judge Meager who bought into the Truehope story.
http://www.healthcanadaexposed.com/_docs/court_transcripts.pdf

Double feature is Charles Popper, M.D. partly at Harvard who edits his own journal to put on his publication record, and star in the trial noted above.
https://connects.catalyst.harvard.edu/Profiles/display/Person/78900

Kernig’s and Brudzinski’s signs were first described in the pre-antibiotic era.

They are neither specific nor sensitive enough to rule in/rule out meningitis in adults, and there is virtually no published data on their performance in the paediatric setting.

It truly horrifies me that a parent who has no medical training, and in fact who eschews mainstream medicine, would look this up on line and perform these tests themselves.

I’m an ID physician and Microbiologist. I always teach my trainees: “Once you’ve raised the question, you have to answer it”. Once meningitis is suspected, the only way to rule it in or out is CSF examination.

Although that CSF would be negative in viral or autoimmune meningitis. Although, for autoimmune, there should be antibody findings.
The realistic standard is, an unimproving cold should be reviewed by a qualified physician in a clinical setting, not a vitamin merchant for any person, especially a child, whose reserves are far too low to tolerate a significant infection.

The death of children whose parents seek naturopathy is tragic and the companies that suggest and promote unsubstantiated immune-health from their products should be illegal.

Example:

Ester-C (The Better Vitamin C) from The Ester-C Company advertise 24-hour immune support.

http://www.ester-c.com/

The U.S. patents teach NOTHING about 24-hour immune support. ( 6,197,813 and 6,878,744)

As protection, in very small print, they state, ” These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Caring loving parents are being manipulated by companies that distort truth in advertising.

“Nothing else works like it” should be a phrase the judicial system uses to shut down these companies deceptive advertisements.

I should have asked this before: If this child had died in a hot (or cold) car what charges would at would at least one of the parents be facing?

The best use for these so called parents is to be spare parted to give life to deserving people.

I know this is harsh but when child safety is concern I tend to be harsh towards the abusers.

@Rich Bly, as harsh as you are, I’m harsher.
Sixteen pregnancies and only two live births makes me extremely harsh when it comes to the safety of a child.

Turns out the all-knowing admins at TMR actually took the post down. I guess they couldn’t handle the fact that the comments weren’t in their favor.

[email protected]

They are neither specific nor sensitive enough to rule in/rule out meningitis in adults, and there is virtually no published data on their performance in the paediatric setting.
And they’re painful. But of the suffering the parents caused that’s rather minor.

So, to be honest, I’m not certain if it’s arrogance or sheer willful ignorance

This: It truly horrifies me that a parent who has no medical training, and in fact who eschews mainstream medicine, would look this up on line and perform these tests themselves.

That’s arrogance. It’s like me watching Mick Taylor on Youtube and then picking up a guitar and thinking I can play Can’t You Hear Me Knocking with any proficiency whatsoever. Only worse. Much worse.

G[]d help us all that we will have to run our child to the doctor with so much as a sniffle Or, you know, with so much as strange neurological disturbances, wheezing, stiffness….

March 6, 2012: Ezekiel suffers a setback. He is “unusually lethargic,” lays in bed the entire day and his only response is to moan unhappily. He doesn’t eat or drink and is exhibiting unusual neurological symptoms.

Raise your hand if you’re a parent or HCP who cares for young children. How many of you would take your toddler to the doctor in this instance? Scratch that, how many of you wouldn’t? How many of you HCPs would turn away a toddler who presented thusly? I already know the answers.

Five years. I hope the judge defies expectations.

The defendants’ sobs were the sounds of their “paradigm” getting smashed on the rocks of reality. But we’re civilized people so we believe in humane punishment: they should get “all-natural” raw food for the duration of their hopefully lengthy prison sentences. Ditto their naturoquack.

Re. Chris Hickle @ 4: First Amendment right to quack loudly:

There was a time when I was a 1st A absolutist. That came to a halt as of the Supreme Court decision that going on TV to call for others to assassinate a sitting President, was protected speech since it was not an “imminent” threat.

So now we have: stochastic terrorism (such as the aforementioned case, going on TV to encourage someone to assassinate a public official), other forms of incitement to violence, fraud in reporting (a Florida FOX station won the right to overtly lie in the news), cyber-bullying (leading to suicides), and last but not least, the right for board-certified MDs to quack it up in public, thereby contributing to an outbreak of a preventable life-threatening disease.

Enough is enough. Hopefully President HRC’s Supreme Court picks will enable overturning some of those horrors and putting sane and reasonable limits on “free speech.” There should be no right to incitement of violence, least of all in broadcast media. There should be no right to claim that a deliberate lie is objective journalism (call it “entertainment” or “editorial”). There should be no right for a member of a licensed profession to endanger the public via statements that are wholly at odds with well-established facts in their field. There should be no right to stalk and harass.

There is no way in hell that the Founders intended the 1st A to be used for those kinds of things. So even right-wing “originalists” should be on-side with this (so far they haven’t been: interesting weasel-wiggle going on there).

Hopefully, 1st A reform could go so far as to ban the kinds of fraudulent claims that are made by naturoquacks and their fellow travelers. That stuff should already be subject to regulation as commercial speech. If someone wants to open up a Church of Homeopathy or some such and make a religion claim, fine: that will at least have the effect of deterring numerous people who might otherwise have availed themselves of magic water and power placebos.

Turns out the all-knowing admins at TMR actually took the post down. I guess they couldn’t handle the fact that the comments weren’t in their favor.

Mind you, they’re censorious asshats in the first place. Did you save the original URL, or might it live on in your browser’s history? I doubt that G—le caches the site very often, but one never knows.

@Ross Miles. After reading the article at your link, instead of a possible maximum of 5 years, I personally don’t think 55 years would be too harsh as they are still denying all responsibility in their sons death.

Collet and David have had 4 years to come to terms with accepting responsibility for Ezekiel’s death — I wouldn’t expect a conviction in the matter to alter their perspective one single iota.

He he he, and Canadians call us ignorant and illiterate third worlds?…nobody is so stupid like this in India or Africa. These are the problems of developed countries, dying from bungee jumping, etc etc

@Delphine: that’s because their son’s horrible death “wasn’t THEIR FAULT!!” It was all the fault of the ambulance for not having the right size intubation tube. After all, the horseradish/whatever/whatever was making him better. And the TrueHope supplements! (why not use them? They were free to the parents, I’m sure).

It’s all the fault of the EVIL VACCINES! If not for the mandatory vaccine pushers, their son would have lived, right? Because even the knowledge that vaccines exist cause death, since he hadn’t had any.

As a mother, I can’t imagine letting my child suffer like that. Sure, a cold, croup for a day or so I’d let go. Longer? Nope, to the doctor!

One has to wonder…if they’d take poor Ezekiel to the hospital when the nurse friend suggested meningitis – would he be alive now? Instead of the parents playing doctor and knowing better than those trained in caring for children.

The chronology of Ezekiel’s final weeks: http://www.680news.com/2016/04/26/a-look-at-the-final-days-of-19-month-old-ezekiel-stephan-and-how-he-was-treated/

I can understand how, in the immediate aftermath, they might have looked around for someone to blame. To admit that your actions/inaction killed your child — I can hardly
imagine coming to terms. But 4 years later, they can’t admit responsibility. That says all you really need to know about Collet and David.

And yes, one wonders. Whether it’s bacterial or viral (as the nurse allegedly suggested) the word “meningitis” should strike fear, even more so after consulting the internet. But even if the nurse had never offered advice — what else did this poor little boy have to do to let his parents know he needed medical care? I guess “stopped breathing” is the answer.

Reject medical care until the sh!t hits the fan. Then blame the providers for failing to save the child whose life you held in your hands.

August 20, 2010: Ezekiel Stephan is born at home with the assistance of birthing assistant Terry Meynders, who is also a registered nurse.

February 27, 2012: Ezekiel takes ill at the family home in Glenwood, Alta. His mother describes him as having a cold, stuffy nose and trouble breathing. “The sound he was making was heartwrenching. This isn’t the kind of sound you want to hear from your child,” she testifies later at the trial.

February 28-March 5, 2012: Ezekiel is treated for what his parents believed to be croup, an upper airway infection that leads to a barking cough. In addition to regular smoothies, they give the boy olive leaf extract, garlic, hot peppers and horseradish. They also attempt to help his breathing with cool air and a humidifier.

March 5, 2012: Ezekiel seems to improve. His father says the boy is not 100 per cent, but he no longer has any difficulty breathing and is able to go to preschool. He plays with his toys and manages to eat some solid food.

March 6, 2012: Ezekiel suffers a setback. He is “unusually lethargic,” lays in bed the entire day and his only response is to moan unhappily. He doesn’t eat or drink and is exhibiting unusual neurological symptoms.

March 7, 2012: Ezekiel seems to improve again. His abnormal movements stop and he can watch TV, but still isn’t playing normally.

March 8-10, 2012: Ezekiel’s parents note he seems to be gradually improving. He regains a bit of his appetite, but is not active or playful.

March 11, 2012: Ezekiel’s symptoms worsen again. He refuses to eat or drink and is lethargic. His parents notice his body is very stiff.

March 12, 2012: Ezekiel’s body is so stiff that his back is arched. He is getting fluids through an eyedropper because he will not drink on his own. Meynders comes to the home and checks his vitals. She suggests he could possibly have viral meningitis and says she tells the mother she should take the boy to a doctor. “It did not jump out at me that he was that seriously ill,” Meynders testifies.

March 13, 2012: The Stephans head to Lethbridge to pick up an echinacea mixture from a naturopath. Ezekiel is too stiff to sit in his car seat and has to lie on a mattress in the vehicle. Back at home that evening, the boy stops breathing on a couple of occasions before his parents leave home to meet an ambulance. The breathing equipment in the ambulance it too large to properly help a small child. The boy is taken to hospital in Cardston and then to Lethbridge for transport to Calgary by air.

March 14, 2012: Ezekiel arrives at Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary where doctors tell the parents the boy is showing very little brain activity and the prognosis is bleak. He is put on life support.

March 16, 2012: Ezekiel dies.

I’ve bolded the part where I would have taken my toddler to the doctor, which was on the first day of his illness. Cold? Lots of them. Stuffy nose? Bog standard. Trouble breathing? Not so much.

@Delphine: nice work! Wonder if the jury had a chronology as clear?

As far as the trouble breathing the mom reported – I’m a nurse, so that’s too vague. We don’t know what she meant by that. What I consider trouble breathing (thanks, all those years working in newborn and high risk nurseries) and what a layperson considers trouble are probably different.

Of course, we know that Colet hadn’t/hasn’t a clue anyway. But, I may not have reacted to 1 day of trouble breathing depending on what my child looked like. I’m fairly calm with wheezing, rhonchi and retracting for short term (but I’ll be watching for worsening and/or cyanosis), but most normal parents would have the kid in the ER. And certainly, after a day of the illness as reported, the kid would have at least been at the doctor’s, if not in the ER.

If my cat would make heartwrenching noises, I wouldn’t wait long, to take it to the vet. And I defenitly wouldn’t try to ‘cure’ it the way Ezekiel’s parents did.

Delphine: “’ve bolded the part where I would have taken my toddler to the doctor, which was on the first day of his illness. Cold? Lots of them. Stuffy nose? Bog standard. Trouble breathing? Not so much.”

Yes, this is the point we did call the doctor, and then take him to the emergency room. Once, it was Thanksgiving and we just left grandparents house (thinking the warm house was not help), but he was so bad we skipped going to our house to call the doctor (no cell phones then), and went straight to the hospital.

His blood oxygen level was under 70%. Not good.

This was “just” croup. I had tried the shower, open window, everything each time, but he ended up in the hospital at least three times. It may have been four, it was a blur — there was also the seizure bit when he had another now vaccine preventable disease. Plus I was either very pregnant or had a small infant (his little brother).

March 12, 2012: Ezekiel’s body is so stiff that his back is arched. He is getting fluids through an eyedropper because he will not drink on his own. Meynders comes to the home and checks his vitals. She suggests he could possibly have viral meningitis and says she tells the mother she should take the boy to a doctor. “It did not jump out at me that he was that seriously ill,” Meynders testifies.

A couple of years ago, my husband suddenly became quite ill from what was undoubtedly influenza. After about a week, he got better. Then, he got much, much worse.

We visited our local walk-in clinic. Pain in his chest and back, noticeable pallor, fever, cough, extreme lethargy. The physician who saw him was very young, the clinic was quite busy, and he was in and out of the room in about 2 minutes. When we reached the car he told me that she had not examined him but had suggested this was a viral illness and to visit his family physician if he didn’t improve within a day or two.

That night he was very sick. He would cough until he vomited. Finally, he passed out at dawn on the bathroom floor.

When he awoke, his breathing seemed very funny and he was no better. I called my mother, a retired GP. She came over, did some tapping/listening, and said, “I think he might have pneumonia, and I think we should take him to the ER.”

As a physician posted upthread — once the question is raised, you have to answer it. And answering the question no longer involves consulting the internet.

Lots of outrage expressed here by many who feel the parents didn’t sufficiently protect their child’s health.
Questions abound, including ‘Should the parents be punished?’, ‘How about the doctor?’, ‘What should the sentence be?’

All because the parents put *at risk* the health of their child, and the *risk didn’t pay off.*

Yet, ironically, Orac and probably over 95% of the people posting here believe a parent *should* be allowed to consciously and *deliberately destroy* the life of their child. You’re upset when a parent risks the death of their child, but OK when a parent *guarantees* the death.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: