Investigate doctors who mistreat immigrant children

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Vulnerable children who have immigrated and are seeking asylum in the United States are not only being separated from their parents by government agencies, they are being "treated" by medical professionals in various detention centers throughout the US. Recently evidence has emerged that this treatment includes actions authorized and committed by licensed and boarded physicians that are clearly contrary to accepted ethical standards and medical best practices.

Specifically these actions appear to include:

  • use of invasive treatments, including physical restraints, oral and injectable medications when it is not the least restrictive means available to ensure patient safety
  • excessive use of psychotropic medications, physical restraints and isolation causing unnecessary and foreseeable harm
  • use of invasive treatments with the goal of behavioral control and sedation rather than patient well-being and safety
  • use of invasive treatments without properly informing patients, and possibly intentionally misleading them regarding medication contents
  • use of behavioral control measures such as stripping, shaming and taunting patients, which have no place in psychiatric practice and cause unnecessary and foreseeable harm
  • use of invasive and non-invasive treatment without consent of patients or parents whose parental rights have not been forfeited in any legal proceedings, including when these parents are known and could reasonably be contacted for consent
  • collaboration with and failure to prevent family separation, an unnecessary trauma to patients that has well-documented lifelong negative consequences for physical and mental health
  • engagement in similar behavior since at least 2014, with multiple documented patient deaths and prior investigations without censure

As healthcare professionals, these actions degrade our professional ethics and standings and erode public trust in our profession, especially in vulnerable communities. We therefore ask the professional organizations who are certifying and licensing these providers to:

  • immediately investigate known offenders, including Shiloh Treatment Center and its medical director Javier Ruiz-Nazario, MD who continues to hold both board certification in psychiatry as well as a Texas MD license
  • promptly publish unambiguous guidelines and clarification that such actions are absolutely contrary to and contraindicated within our profession and will be met with similar investigations and sanctions
  • continue to actively investigate any healthcare providers associated with immigrant detention centers, given a high likelihood that they have engaged in similar malpractice, and refer such information to any relevant licensing or certifying boards in their state, profession and specialty


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