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Claim: Christian Woman Put In Psychiatric Ward For Religious Devotion

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A woman claims she was placed in a psychiatric ward for an entire month because a doctor viewed her prayer, Bible reading and fasting as symptoms of mental illness. The unidentified woman, known only as Jane Doe, is suing Dr. Saraj Brar and the St. Vincent Charity Medical Center in Cleveland for false imprisonment and violations of patient rights.

Court documents say Doe was taken to the hospital’s emergency room after collapsing at a BP gas station in Cleveland on July 10, 2013, Courthouse News Service reported. After she took blood tests, doctors at the hospital kept her in the facility’s psychiatric ward and tried to force her to take anti-psychotic medications.

“Dr. Brar and other St. Vincent’s staff characterized Doe’s religious devotion as evidence of mental instability, making repeated references to her ‘religious preoccupation’ and noting Doe’s Bible reading and audible praying as evidence [of] mental illness,” documents filed with the Cuyahoga Court obtained by Courthouse News service state.

Diagnosed as Bipolar

Among other things, Doe’s attorneys claim she was diagnosed as bipolar and kept against her will in the psychiatric ward for five days. The documents also allege that Dr. Brar tried to get Doe committed to a mental hospital.

“When Doe refused to take anti-psychotic medications prescribed by Dr. Brar, defendants sought continued involuntary commitment through the Cuyahoga County Probate Court,” the lawsuit alleges. The court rejected Brar’s request and ordered Jane Doe released.

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Court documents describe Jane Doe as a Pentecostal Christian and a self-published author of spiritual books. She was apparently fasting as part of her religious devotions – that is, going days without eating, although she did drink water. Blood tests taken at the emergency room showed she was suffering from low levels of “low sodium, potassium and electrolyte levels” in her blood which can be consistent with fasting.

Documents obtained by the Courthouse News Service don’t say whether the hospital or Dr. Brar have responded to the suit. Nor do the documents state what damages Jane Doe is seeking.

She was released after a court hearing Aug. 9 of last year.

Other Cases

Jane Doe’s case is another example of a disturbing trend: Doctors attempting to deprive individuals and parents of rights in the name of medical care.

In Massachusetts last year, doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital and state social workers took Justina Pelletier, 15, away from her parents and placed her in a locked psychiatric ward after accusing the parents of “medical child abuse.”

The Boston Globe reported that there were at least five cases in which Boston Children’s Hospital tried to strip parents of custody. Those cases included a 16-year-old girl with autoimmune disease who was locked in a psychiatric ward and a five-year-old boy whose parents were escorted from the hospital by security.

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