On Friday, April 15, the California Judicial Council approved a new series of safeguards to help stem the abuse of psychotropic medicating throughout the state foster care system.
These new restrictions are expected to be put into the place as soon as July, and will both require doctors to make more convincing cases to begin new prescriptions as well as impel caregivers to give greater detail on how in-care youth react to currently-subscribed psychotropic medications. Most importantly, youth within the foster care will be offered greater opportunity to voice their own opinions about medications prescribed and how they make them feel.
California has long been on the cusp of the over-medicating discussion, being the only state in the nation to require court approval for any and all psychiatric medications written for foster care youth. Yet critics decried the prior-lack of judicial oversight, saying the approval process worked too much like rubber stamping, with psychotropic prescription requests being only partially filled and objections frequently waved away.
With these new rules, doctors will be required to state a full reasoning for any prescriptions made and the results of any relative lab tests with those drugs. The courts will also expect to hear how pharma and non-pharma treatments utilized in the past affected the specific foster care youth involved, and exact specifications for how the prescribed medication is expected to improve the youth’s symptoms.
These sweeping reforms promise to shed new light on one of the foster care system’s biggest issues: Overmedication. Experts estimate nearly one in four children in foster care have been subscribed at least one psychotropic medication–over four times the rate for children nationwide. While the right medication can bring positive change for those in need, the wrongful prescription of certain psychotropic medications can have serious negative consequences, even death.
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