A recently-filed lawsuit has accused doctors at a California youth detention center of secretly prescribing a 16-year-old boy estrogen, resulting in the teen developing enlarged breasts.
According to the lawsuit, the unidentified teen was diagnosed with oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) two days after he was arrested and detained at Eastlake Juvenile Hall in June 2019. The Los Angeles Times reported that they reviewed medical records showing the teen’s testosterone levels were “slightly high” when doctors prescribed him 2mg of estrogen a day.
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) describes ODD as a behavioral disorder — more severe than typical misbehavior — which causes someone to have difficulty complying with authority, frequently lose their temper, and become spiteful or vindictive. The APA says treatment for ODD, which affects children and adults, entails therapy and training.
Medical records stated that the teen was diagnosed with gynecomastia, or the enlargement of breast gland tissue, after taking 13 daily doses of estrogen. Gynecomastia is caused by an imbalance of estrogen and testosterone, which the Mayo Clinic says can occur naturally in males.
The lawsuit accused doctors Danny Wang and David Oh of prescribing estrogen to the teen boy as an “experimental treatment” for ODD. The lawsuit said that the teen received 30 doses of estrogen without his parents’ consent, according to the Sacramento Bee.
The teen’s father told the Los Angeles Times that he learned of his son’s gynecomastia after visiting him at Eastlake Juvenile Hall last July. The father claimed he confronted Oh, the medical director, over the phone and Oh admitted that Wang had made a “mistake.”
Medical records indicated that the teen stopped taking the estrogen treatments last July due to negative side effects. The teen’s attorney, Wesley Ouchi, said his client didn’t want to take the estrogen pills but feared that his defiance would be used against him in court. It’s not immediately known what the teen was jailed for, or the outcome of that case.
The pending lawsuit accuses Wang, Oh, and Los Angeles County of medical battery and negligence.
A Department of Health Services spokesperson told the Los Angeles Times that Wang’s been employed by the county since 2012. However, the spokesperson reportedly declined to disclose Wang’s current status with the agency, claiming it was a “confidential personnel matter.”
Ouchi said his client, now 17, was released in April and will require surgery to treat his gynecomastia. The lawyer also alleged that the teen’s condition made him the target of bullying while at juvenile hall.
The boy’s father told the Times that the hormone treatment changed his son for the worse.
“He’s like a different person. He just wants to be in his room, and he don’t come out for nothing, all day in his room,” he said. “He was never like that.”
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[Featured image: Pixabay]