Teen Experiences Serious Complications after School Inserts Birth Control Implant Without Parental Consent

sad teen

Recently, a mother of a Digital Harbor High School student in Baltimore, Md., was shocked and dismayed to discover that her daughter was suffering complications from an implanted birth control device that she didn't even know was there. Nicole Lambert's then-sixteen-year-old daughter was complaining of arm pain, so her mother took her to the pediatrician, who discovered that an improperly inserted Nexplanon birth control device was the culprit. It was the school nurse who inserted it.

PJ Media reached out to the Lambert's attorney, David Ledyard, for comment. "There's no transparency in the training or certification of the school health centers," he said. "Are they looking at the medical history of the students and doing a full workup before implanting these devices? What is the certification process and training of the nurses?"

Ledyard has been trying to get this information from the school but has been stonewalled for over a month. Lambert has put in a formal request for her daughter's medical file, but the school has yet to turn it over.

"It's important to [the mother] that this is not about birth control. If her daughter had needed it, she would have consented to get it," said Ledyard. Lambert's main issue is with what the school did — implanting Nexplanon is an invasive procedure that should require oversight by a parent. The mother told ABC, "They call me for Tylenol, but they don't call me about birth control." And in this case, it caused a major problem that required surgical removal.

Unfortunately, a law in Maryland makes it possible for minors to consent to invasive procedures without parental consent. 

A minor has the same capacity as an adult to consent to:

(1) Treatment for or advice about drug abuse;

(2) Treatment for or advice about alcoholism;

(3) Treatment for or advice about venereal disease;

(4) Treatment for or advice about pregnancy;

(5) Treatment for or advice about contraception other than sterilization;

(6) Physical examination and treatment of injuries from an alleged rape or sexual offense;

(7) Physical examination to obtain evidence of an alleged rape or sexual offense;  and

(8) Initial medical screening and physical examination on and after admission of the minor into a detention center.

Unbelievably, the device could not be removed without Lambert's consent. The surgery to remove the device also removed damaged tissue and skin caused by the Nexplanon. Merck, the maker of the device, is open about possible complications that come with this particular form of birth control. First, it's not even approved for use by anyone under the age of eighteen and has never been tested on a younger population. Second, there are many risks, including blood-clotting, depression, mood swings, injury to nerves or blood vessels in the arm, scar tissue, infection, keloids, ectopic pregnancies, ovarian cysts, breast cancer, blindness, stroke, heart attack, and death. (There's more on the website here.)

The Nexplanon device has faced many difficulties since being put on the market. The first generation was pulled because of too many lawsuits. The second generation didn't fare much better. While the third generation is currently on the market, it is not without issues, like the one Lambert's daughter suffered.

ABC News in Baltimore sent FOIA requests to the school and the health department, but was told that because of pending litigation they could not release information. Ledyard said he wasn't aware of any pending lawsuits. "I looked for pending litigation, but I didn't find any. It's possible it's listed under a different name and I'm searching the wrong thing, but so far, there's nothing coming up." The attorney, who has not filed a lawsuit yet, is hoping the school will be transparent about the risks to students and the policies that led to this disaster.

PJ Media reached out to Digital Harbor High School for comment but received no response at the time of publishing. We will update if that changes.