Monday, September 01, 2014

Foster system drugging our kids

The San Jose Mercury News has a special report:
With alarming frequency, foster and health care providers are turning to a risky but convenient remedy to control the behavior of thousands of troubled kids: numbing them with psychiatric drugs that are untested on and often not approved for children.

An investigation by this newspaper found that nearly 1 out of every 4 adolescents in California’s foster care system is receiving these drugs — 3 times the rate for all adolescents nationwide. Over the last decade, almost 15 percent of the state’s foster children of all ages were prescribed the medications, known as psychotropics, part of a national treatment trend that is only beginning to receive broad scrutiny.

“We’re experimenting on our children,” said Los Angeles County Judge Michael Nash, who presides over the nation’s largest juvenile court.
Followup stories said:
With pressure on California's foster care system to curb the rampant use of powerful psych meds on children, concern is mounting about the doctors behind the questionable prescribing.

For months, the state has adamantly refused to release data that this newspaper sought to expose which physicians are most responsible. Now, in response to a request from state Sen. Ted Lieu, California's medical board is investigating whether some doctors are "operating outside the reasonable standard of care."
And this:
Some of the state's most influential lawmakers on Monday called on California's foster care system to stop the reckless prescribing of psychiatric medications to troubled children, demanding the state quit spending tens of millions of tax dollars on such risky therapies.

The demand for action comes a day after this newspaper published "Drugging our Kids," an investigation that found nearly one in four adolescents in the nation's largest child welfare system is prescribed at least one psych med -- 3 1/2 times the rate of all teens.

Almost 60 percent of foster youth prescribed psychotropics in California are being given antipsychotics, the most dangerous and expensive class of the drugs, which can result in rapid-onset obesity, diabetes and uncontrollable tremors. Lawmakers expressed outrage over the newspaper's findings that many of the medications are prescribed for behavior management -- not the mental illnesses they are approved to treat -- and have little, if any, science supporting their safety and effectiveness in children.
This reporter has written several exposes of the foster care system, but she does not seem at all interested in similar problems in family court and elsewhere.

I have posted on this blog the extensive use of psychiatric drugs on foster kids in a 2011 post and a 2012 post, and also complained about dubious use of such drugs on other kids.

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