ECT man’s family denied his records

THE family of a 40-year-old man being involuntarily detained in a Co Kildare psychiatric unit have claimed they have been told they cannot access his medical records because they “went public” with his story.

As reported in Thursday’s Irish Examiner, Morgan Pritchard was due to undergo a treatment of forced electric shock treatment (ECT) yesterday. This decision, however, was reversed at the last minute and Mr Pritchard’s doctors have decided to carry out a further course of drugs treatment instead.

Mr Pritchard’s sister Sarah Duffin said his mother was told she could not access his medical files as they had spoken to the media about Morgan’s ECT in order to put pressure on the hospital to stop it.

“We just want what is best for Morgan,” said Ms Duffin. “The HSE has no idea how heartbreaking this is for us all. We are stressed out and devastated and can’t find out what is going on with Morgan.”

Ms Duffin said she and her family believe Morgan has been misdiagnosed, and are seeking a second opinion. She questioned why getting a second opinion appeared to be such a problem. “If you have a physical illness there is no question about getting a second opinion. Why should this be any different?”

Mr Pritchard was detained in the Lakeview Unit, at Naas General Hospital after going through a heroin withdrawal.

He has since been diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, which his family dispute.

Ms Duffin maintains her brother’s condition appeared to deteriorate after being put on anti-depressant and anti-psychotic medication.

“There has been a change in Morgan’s behaviour and worsening of his symptoms since being put on these new drugs. There are many informed studies on this medication and it has very dangerous side effects, particularly when given in high doses and in conjunction with an anti-depressant,” Ms Duffin said.

“We have nothing against Lakeview or any of the staff, the nursing staff there are great. But we do not agree with Morgan’s treatment and want him to be assessed by someone else.”

“We have to speak out for Morgan and highlight these issues — what about all those who don’t have family to intervene or can’t speak for themselves because they are so drugged up on medication?”

John McCarthy, mental health campaigner and founder of Mad Pride, said the case embodies what is wrong with the mental health system. “We have given far too much power to one section of our medical profession and it is time they are relieved of that power,” Mr McCarthy said.

“What is the need for all the secrecy and why are Morgan’s family not involved in his care?”

A spokesperson for the HSE said they could not comment on the care of an individual whose name is in the public domain.

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