KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Children's Mercy Hospital is suing Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey over an investigation into the hospital's transgender care services.
Bailey made over 50 requests for documents and information from CMH following allegations against Washington University Pediatric Transgender Center at St. Louis Children's Hospital.
Children's Mercy Hospital asked the court to set aside Bailey's civil investigative demand, stating it has no affiliation with the Washington University center and that there is no legal basis for the investigation to be made.
Bailey claimed he has reason to believe that the Washington University Pediatric Transgender Center and other similar centers in Missouri "may have used deception, fraud, false promises, misrepresentation, unfair practices" or the "concealment, suppression, or omission of material facts," based in part on allegations made by a former case manager at the pediatric transgender center.
Jamie Reed, who left the Washington University Pediatric Transgender Center in November 2022, made a number of allegations against the center in a sworn affidavit. Reed claimed that during her time at the center, she witnessed healthcare providers lie to the public and parents about treatment, provide puberty blockers and hormones to children without complete informed parental consent and more.
Washington University in St. Louis released a statement on Feb. 9 saying that it is alarmed by the allegations.
"We are taking this matter very seriously and have already begun the process of looking into the situation to ascertain the facts," the statement said.
Reed's affidavit does not mention CMH and does not make any allegations against the hospital system.
In the lawsuit, Children's Mercy claims Bailey's request for documents is not relevant to the investigation and that the attorney general doesn't have the authority to investigate and enforce medical standards under the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act.
CMH says the investigation would require the hospital system to violate its duty to protect confidential information of its patients and that Bailey violated several statues, including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, Missouri's Peer Review Privilege, by "impermissibly" seeking patient records.
Bailey's office defended the investigation, citing findings from the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, which determined that “there is a lack of current evidence-based guidance for the care of children and adolescents who identify as transgender.”
"Despite making claims that conflict with both U.S. and European medical authorities, Children's Mercy is refusing to provide even a single document to explain its practices," Bailey's office said in a written statement. "That is very concerning."
Children's Mercy says its gender-affirming care services are evidence-based and follow the World Professional Organization for Transgender Health's standards of care.
WPATH's standards say that genital surgery should only be performed on adult patients who have lived in their gender role for at least one year. The standards also advise that hormone therapy should only be used on patients who have well-documented gender dysphoria, who are able to make a well-informed decision and have no or "reasonably well-controlled" significant medical or mental health concerns.
CMH says it has endocrinologists who discuss use of puberty-blocking and gender-affirming hormones at appropriate ages with patients. WPATH's standards of care say adolescents may be eligible for puberty-suppressing hormones if they have a long-lasting pattern of gender dysphoria that intensified or persisted after puberty, have no unaddressed additional psychological, medical or social issues and both the patient and their parent or guardian have given informed consent to the treatment. The standards say adolescents may also be eligible for gender-affirming hormones.
The attorney general's office expressed confidence to KSHB 41 News that its civil investigative demand would prevail.
"We look forward to prevailing in this request for information and learning what is truly going on with Children's Mercy in connection with gender transition issues."
Children's Mercy's lawsuit asked the court to set aside the civil investigation demand, and for further relief as the court determines is just.
KSHB 41 News has contacted Children's Mercy Hospital for a statement on the lawsuit and civil investigative demand. This story will be updated if a response is received.