Emergency Meds v. physical restraints

Vending machine

Vending machine (Photo credit: Mr Wabu)

Last I wrote, there was a question about whether the state hospital placed Brandon in restraints due to hitting himself in the head.  This kind of behavior would normally have been cause for a judge to order Brandon on emergency medication.  When I called to find out what was going on, upper management expressed concern about the discrepancy and promised to “look into it further.”  Unfortunately, the true story will remain an unsolved mystery.  The last word was that the unit denied Brandon being in restraints prior to the case manager’s visit, but did admit to restraining him during the visit.  They felt it would be better to take precautions during the case manager’s visit rather than have her be hurt.  I understand the logic; however, if there was such grave concern about a visitor’s safety wouldn’t that qualify as “danger to others?”  One guess is that the hospital has a preferred time line – it’s usually about a month after he arrives that the hospital petitions for emergency medication.  Another possible reason is that the judge’s will only accept ‘danger to self or others’ after an incident has occurred.  Whatever the reason, the hospitals and criminal justice system have all the power.  It takes a long time to go through the necessary steps required by law to involuntary medicate an individual.

Due to his charges, Brandon is on the maximum security unit.  He has to wear a uniform, cannot receive packages, snacks etc.  He cannot have a patient account or order out food.  He is very unhappy about this.  He asked when other people were coming to visit him.  I’m not sure if it was because he wanted snacks (visitors can buy snacks during the visit from the vending machines) or the company.  I think it’s probably a combination of the two.  I made the mistake of asking about his holiday (Independence Day).  He responded, “I’ve been either in the hospital or jail for the past year and a half – I miss all the holidays.”  He then hung up.  There must be a better way to deal with the severely mentally ill.  At least both of us recognize there is no quality of life this way.

A week later, the hospital called to inform me that hospital personnel saw Brandon walking down the hall hitting his head, so the judge agreed to 10 days of emergency medication.  Brandon agreed to take the medication voluntarily rather than have the shot.  When they go back to court in 10 days, will the judge take his history into consideration and issue a longer term involuntary medication order?

In the meantime, we are gearing up for our 3rd visit to Brandon.  After talking with various personnel from the mental health clinics, acute hospitals, jails etc., I feel strongly that the state hospital is the only entity that can intervene to break this cycle.  Will they be amenable?

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One thought on “Emergency Meds v. physical restraints

  1. Pingback: Forcing medical treatment for severely mentally ill « Its Madness: On Guardianship of the Mentally Ill from Afar

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