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Electro-convulsive therapy review

Electro-convulsive therapy review

A comprehensive review is needed of the safety and efficacy of electro-convulsive therapy and the adequacy of regulatory controls on its use in New Zealand, a Health Committee report has found.

The committee today presented to the House its report on the petition of Anna de Jonge and others, which requests that the House of Representatives accept a petition against electro-convulsive shock treatment. Electro-convulsive therapy (ECT) is the use of specialised medical equipment to induce an epileptic seizure by passing a small electrical current across the brain. The committee heard conflicting evidence on the safety and efficacy of ECT.

‘We consider the current best practice guidelines for the administration of ECT in New Zealand must be applied consistently,’ committee chairperson Steve Chadwick said. ‘All ECT services must use these guidelines, have local policies and procedures in place, and ensure good clinical and quality management practices based on knowledge and relevant training of medical and nursing staff. National technical and quality standards should also be developed,’ Mrs Chadwick said. Some committee members considered ECT should be used only as a last resort.

Another concern was the lack of data collection on the use of ECT in New Zealand. ‘Without this national data, it is not possible to monitor ECT outcomes. We consider the collection of national data would enable comparisons between DHBs about the rate of use of ECT, enabling any particularly high usage areas to be more closely examined,’ Mrs Chadwick said.

Altogether, the committee has made nine recommendations to the Government in its report.

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