Staff at Sainte-Justine Hospital violated the rights of several patients, in some cases subjecting children to tests without parents' permission, according to a report by Quebec's youth and human rights commission obtained by Radio-Canada's investigative program Enquête.

The report found that in some instances, staff didn't obtain permission from parents — or went ahead despite their objections — when carrying out medical tests in cases where the parents were suspected of abuse. 

In most of those cases, the parents were cleared of wrongdoing.

For example, the commission said that in some cases the hospital staff carried out several tests on children in order to confirm mistreatment. 

"In these cases, staff at the CHU Sainte-Justine exceeded its role and prevented [the director of youth protection] from playing its own," the commission said.  

'If we said no, the police would ... take our child away'

Parents Catherine Major and Jean-François Morand, were among those who complained.

Catherine Major

"They told us that if we said no, the police would come and take our child away," says parent Catherine Major. (Radio-Canada)

​When their one-and-a-half-month old child fell, they took her to Ste-Justine. They ended up under the scrutiny of youth protection, which suspected the baby had been shaken.

The hospital wanted to carry out some tests, which Major and Morand were uncomfortable with.

Major said she was worried about exposing her child to radiation through tests.

"You're a mother who's worried about your child's suffering and who's worried about knowing what's happening," Major said.

But she felt like she didn't have a choice.

"They told us that if we said no, the police would come and take our child away."

A youth protection investigation eventually cleared Morand and Major of wrongdoing.

Quebec's youth and human rights commission does not identify or point to any specific doctors in its report.

Hospital welcomes report

Ste-Justine hospital said today it welcomed the conclusions of the report, noting that in some cases staff were right to alert youth protection staff and had reasonable motives to believe the cases could be incidents of abuse.

In fact, in three cases, the hospital says the commission criticized staff for a delay in alerting youth protection.

The hospital says it will follow up "rigorously" on the commission's recommendations. It says its priority is the protection of the children involved.

Report: Child's rights violated in 6 cases

Out of 13 complaints filed more than two years ago, the commission found instances of patients' rights being violated in six cases. 

The report said that youth protection often puts too much stock in a doctor's version of events, without a more thorough investigation.

It gave Sainte-Justine hospital and youth protection a few months to make changes and improve the way they deal with these investigations.

Sainte-Justine was not immediately available for comment. 

Translation based on a report by Pasquale Turbide, with Radio-Canada's Enquête