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Amendment Puts Gaping Hole In Proposed Law

The touted Gabriel Myer’s bill is again in the news, this time the bill is being shown in a bad light. An amendment has been stapled onto it, an amendment that would dampen it’s effect.

The Miami Herald covered the story with an article, Amendment to bill targeting foster kid’s medication draws fire.

Psychiatric Solutions, which operates 13 residential treatment programs in Florida, including three in Broward County, proposed an amendment to state Sen. Ronda Storms’ bill that will allow the company, and others like it, to administer mental-health drugs to young foster children for three days without the consent of a parent or judge. The legislation was prompted by the 2009 death of a 7-year-old Margate foster child, Gabriel Myers.

Psychiatric Solutions is a private company that runs mental health facilities. There have been many questions raised about Psychiatric Solutions ability to provide for the patients under it’s care, and a few of these facilities, in a number of different states, have been found guilty of human rights violations in the treatment of their patients.

Psychiatric Solution’s is known to contribute much money to the campaigns of those politicians the company favors.

Senator Storms says she is not amending the bill because of Psychiatric Solution’s lobbying efforts, but rather because of the importance of getting this bill through despite opposition.

But the bill, as amended by Storms on Tuesday, makes exceptions: Doctors may begin the use of psychiatric drugs, without consent or a court order, if a child is in a mental hospital, a crisis stabilization unit, a residential treatment center or therapeutic group home. In such settings, DCF must seek a court order to administer the drugs within three days of beginning the medication.

The law as it is now written allows for no such 3 day suspension of consent.

It may look good on paper, but you’re drafting an amendment that would essentially counteract the effects of the very law you are proposing.

Critics of the amendment note that children in such institutional settings are the most at risk of being inappropriately medicated.

Emphasis added.

Obviously this loophole in any law that is enacted is going to mean more over drugging of foster children in the state of Florida.

I think it’s time we drop the name of Gabriel Myers from the proposed law. If this bill becomes law, it will almost certainly have its own share of casualties.