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Informed Consent And Care For Dementia Patient

Mental Health Commissioner Kevin Allan today released a report finding MidCentral DHB in breach of the Code of Health and Disability Services Consumers’ Rights (the Code) for failures in the care of an elderly woman with dementia.

The woman’s daughter, who was her welfare guardian, opposed her mother being admitted to the hospital’s mental health unit. However, the DHB considered the admission was the only option in light of increasing behavioural difficulties and so admitted the woman. In his report Kevin Allan discussed the importance of providers being aware of people’s legal status, and obtaining informed consent.

Mr Allan was critical that the woman was given an antipsychotic drug to restrain her without informed consent from her welfare guardian. He also criticised the DHB for not giving the woman’s welfare guardian sufficient opportunity to provide input into the treatment plan, and had concerns about medication management and the overall standard of medical oversight provided in the mental health ward.

Mr Allan recommended that the DHB apologise to the woman’s daughter; provide training to mental health unit staff on a number of issues raised in his report; conduct an audit of informed consent for medication; and provide an update on the changes it had made to its older adult mental health service.

The full report for case 17HDC00296 is available on the HDC website.

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