CBS News 48 Hours examines the case of Allen Griffen, an 11-year-old Iowa boy who died from a treatable disease. Whose fault is his death? His parents? His doctors? Should his parents - put on trial for allowing his death to occur - be held responsible?
As 48 Hours explores how a controllable medical problem could get so far out of control, you'll learn more about the following individuals:
Allen Griffen, a fourth-grader in Johnston, Iowa. On May 22, 1989, he died of peritonitis, a treatable intestinal disease. He weighed about 45 pounds when he died.
Terry and Jean Griffen, Allen's parents. The Griffins say they had no idea that their son was in danger of dying. They say they think about their son's death every day. But Iowa authorities, who said the signs of danger were obvious, charged the pair with willfully depriving their son of medical care. The couple faced 10 years in prison.
Carla Fultz and Bill Price, the Griffens' lawyers. They argued that Allen's doctors didn't adequately communicate the danger to the boy or his parents.
Dr. Thomas Bennett, who served as the Iowa state medical examiner. He said on the stand that Allen was a victim of "medical neglect."
Allen Kaufman and Jeffrey Stahl, two of Allen's doctors. The Griffens' lawyers argued that these two are really at fault in Allen's death.
Ultimately, the Griffens were found not guilty of neglect. They considered adopting another child, but never did. Following their acquittal, the Griffens sued Allen's doctors for malpractice. The case was settled out of court.
Aired: 9 Aug 1999