MILWAUKEE — A mother accused of subjecting her daughter to needless medical treatments for years that only made her daughter more ill was charged in Milwaukee County Circuit Court Tuesday.
Alisha Newman, 34, of Oklahoma City, has been charged with one count each of physical child abuse, recklessly causing great bodily harm and child neglect. Bond was set at $50,000 for Newman, who is a licensed nurse in the state of Oklahoma.
Newman allegedly faked her daughter’s medical records in numerous states, resulting in numerous invasive treatments that left the girl with a pacemaker on her heart, a port to receive IV fluids and a feeding tube.
“This is a case that, in essence, involves a continuing course of conduct and offense that has lasted the entirety of this child’s life,” said Milwaukee County Deputy District Attorney Matthew Torbenson. “This was a life-threatening, life-altering situation for this poor 10-year-old child.”
Prosecutors say Newman’s actions left the girl gravely-ill, prompting Newman to take her to Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin on May 7. The child’s “skin looked pale and ashen. (The child) appeared severely ill,” according to the complaint. Hospital staff rushed the girl – who was in severe shock, suffering from acute renal failure, organ damage and a blood infection – to the pediatric ICU.
During the child’s hospitalization, Newman told medical staff the girl was “diagnosed with dysautonomia, muscular dystrophy, mitochondrial disease, hypertension and hypotension, and severe dysmotility,” the complaint said.
During tests in November 2016 and October 2017, however, doctors found no evidence to support a “diagnosis of muscular dystrophy or mitochondrial disease” and that the “test results, which were negative, were also communicated via email to Newman,” court records show.
Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin officials audited the girl’s medical records since birth, and found there was a “concerning pattern of conduct on the part of Newman, who has routinely provided false or misleading information to medical providers rendering medical treatment to (the child).”
Newman is alleged to have provided false information to doctors in states that include North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas. The medical director wrote that the girl was “being misdiagnosed and was undergoing multiple unwarranted medical procedures, many of which posed risk to (the child’s) life.” Torbenson said there were DNR (do not resuscitate) orders in place at multiple hospitals.
Newman’s alleged behavior is often known as Munchausen by proxy, a syndrome in which a caregiver fabricates an illness in someone under his or her care.
Her defense attorney argued that Newman’s alleged acts weren’t intentional and said such a diagnosis “speaks to whether she would continue to pose any potential danger to the alleged victim in this case.”
After the hearing, Newman turned to face the gallery where her husband was sitting, appearing to mouth the words, “Help me.”
If convicted on either of the charges, Newman would face a penalty of up to 15 years in prison and $50,000 in fines. A preliminary hearing was scheduled for June 7.