- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 29, 2015

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - The parents of a brain-damaged 3-year-old boy asked an Oklahoma County judge Tuesday to stop a group of physicians they are suing from terminating care for the child and the rest of his family.

Andrew and Keri Hale of Oklahoma City are seeking an emergency injunction and a temporary restraining order against the OU Physicians group over the health care providers’ plan to discontinue care for the child, his parents and his siblings.

The requests say the physicians group is taking “punitive and retaliatory action” against the boy and his family over a malpractice lawsuit the child’s parents filed against the same group of physicians last year. That lawsuit was regarding care provided during his November 2011 birth that the suit alleges left him with brain damage.

“This is being done in retaliation against this brain-damaged child and his family simply because his family had the bravery to come forward and seek legal redress,” said the family’s attorney, Jacob Diesselhorst of Edmond. “Why would they cut off care to this brain-damaged child?”

An attorney for the physicians group, Blake Patton of Oklahoma City, said the decision to discontinue care for the family was not motivated by ill will. Patton said it is a common response by groups of physicians nationwide when a lawsuit is filed against a member of the group.

“It is simply a standard practice that the hospital uses to preserve its ethical duties to its patients,” Patton said.

He said an ethical conflict arises when a physician provides care for patients who are suing other physicians in the same practice group.

“What the hospital must guard against is not only actual ethical conflicts, but the appearance of ethical conflicts.” Patton said.

The injunction request says the Hales received a letter on Sept. 21 stating the more than 600 doctors in the OU Physicians group “must withdraw” from providing any further care to the boy and his family anywhere in Oklahoma. This includes pediatric subspecialists who provide medical care and treatment to the brain-damaged child.

The requests for an injunction and temporary restraining order ask the judge to give the family up to 90 days to find new health care providers for the child.

The original lawsuit, filed in October 2014, alleges medical malpractice concerning the care received by Keri Hale during her labor and delivery. The suit says that care resulted in permanent brain damage to the child due to lack of oxygen.

“Now he cannot get care,” Diesselhorst said.

District Judge Bryan Dixon scheduled an Oct. 16 hearing on the family’s requests.

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