A New Jersey lawsuit claims staff in the state’s five mental hospitals are frequently medicating patients against their will.
A New Jersey lawsuit (pdf link) claims staff in the state’s five mental hospitals are frequently medicating patients against their will.
The lawsuit filed by the advocacy group “Disability Rights New Jersey” states that patients are getting mind-altering medications with severe side effects without their consent, and without adequate legal avenues to protest. Emmett Dwyer is director of litigation for Disability Rights:
Dwyer: To be overpowered an told ‘you are going to take this medication if you don’t take this medication we’re going to hold you down and forcibly inject it into you’ is the most distressing thing that patients have described to us.
Dwyer says New Jersey patients’ rights laws are weak and often ignored. He adds that giving patients medications against their will leads to bad outcomes:
Dwyer: If you force medication on people, and then you push them out the hospital door, you have to be delusional yourself as a medical professional if you think that person is going to continue with that medication.
Experts on mental illness agree that in order for treatment to be successful, patients have to be involved in decisions.
Members of the New Jersey chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness say the suit could bring attention to problems in state hospitals, but warn that putting a legal process between doctors and patients could delay needed treatment.