By Louise Milligan
A Melbourne mental health patient is suing a hospital and two doctors for assault, restraint of freedom of movement and trespass on his person after he claims they administered electroconvulsive treatment (ECT), once known as “shock therapy”, against his will.
The matter of patient Garth Daniels and Eastern Health will be heard at County Court when Mr Daniels attempts to stop Box Hill Hospital doctors from treating him with the therapy.
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Mr Daniels is an involuntary patient at the locked psychiatric facility, Upton House, in Box Hill and has instructed solicitors to sue the hospital for unlawful trespass on his person after they administered 31 ECT treatments since August, without his consent.
Lawyers acting for Eastern Health told Judge Frank Saccardo, at a directions hearing into the matter on Thursday, that the case relied on Mr Daniels’ capacity and reliability as a witness, which they argue is diminished by his mental illness.
Professor Paul Katz, who oversees Mr Daniels’ care as executive clinical director of Mental Health at Eastern Health, told 7.30 that ECT was the only option available to treat Mr Daniels’ illness apart from the anti-psychotic drug, Clozapine, which Mr Daniels and his family have refused.
“Garth has a very, very severe, chronic, mental illness (that’s) pharmacologically treatment-resistant,” Professor Katz said.
“More recently, we introduced ECT into his treatment regime and the treating team have not seen Garth this well in our long association with him and his family.