Groups cast doubt on validity of state hospital’s electrotherapy consent forms
Here’s an article I found on the Austin American-Statesman that talks about the efficacy of the consent forms for controversial treatments on mentally ill patients. I have often wondered about the use of consent forms on the floridly psychotic and the legalities of such use. It seems others are wondering also. Please read this article and tell me what you think.
By Andrea Ball
Updated: 11:25 p.m. Thursday, May 31, 2012
Published: 8:05 p.m. Thursday, May 31, 2012
Texas’ public psychiatric hospitals never should have used a controversial treatment on more than 120 aggressive patients because the consent forms they signed did not spell out potential side effects and other information required under state rules, mental health watchdogs said this week.
Patients who received cranial electrotherapy stimulation at North Texas State Hospital in Vernon were not told in writing that the treatment can cause headaches, nausea, dizziness and skin irritation, said Beth Mitchell, a lawyer with Disability Rights Texas, a federally funded mental health advocacy group. The consent form — a copy of which was obtained by the Austin American-Statesman — also fails to mention alternative treatments and the condition that is being targeted.
But state officials say the form was adequate and is just one piece of the informed consent process.
“The form alone may not be the full picture,” said Carrie Williams, spokeswoman for the Department of State Health Services, which oversees the 10 public psychiatric hospitals. “Risks, benefits and alternatives could have been laid out verbally and documented in the progress notes.”
Challenges to the validity of the consent forms come several weeks after health department officials said they learned that a North Texas State Hospital psychiatrist had conducted unauthorized research on the use of cranial electrotherapy stimulation on violent, mentally ill patients.
The consent forms go to the heart of the questions advocates have posed on the issue: Did the patients understand and willingly agree to the treatment? Or were they being used as research subjects without regard to their civil rights?
“Honestly, I just don’t understand how this could happen,” Mitchell said. “I think there was a breakdown across the board here.”
State officials say they are still trying to determine whether …[read more]
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From the authorAs a psychiatric nurse for the last 20 years, I have seen many changes in the way we, as a population, view and respond to those we deem "mentally ill". I know that anyone, anywhere can be affected by mental illness, just like anyone, anywhere can become diabetic. I know that we need to treat these people as we, ourselves, would want to be treated. Mental illness is real and it affects numerous homes and families around the world. We need to see the mentally ill as real people with a serious, chronic illness that needs ongoing treatment and care. We owe it to all of those families to provide it and to give them solace from the sometimes frightening events faced by the mental patient out in our communities.
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