July 18, 2001 Hearings on ECT in New York

After releasing a package of 4 bills earlier this week aimed at providing stronger oversight and protections in the use of electroconvulsive treatment in NYS, Assembly Mental Health Committee Chair Marty Luster has announced a date for a second hearing in Albany, intended particularly to gain feedback about the 4 bills and related concerns.

Since the Senate will not have the time to respond before it leaves town this week, it appears very unlikely that there will be a chance to pass final ECT legislation this session.

However, the Senate reportedly is interested in enacting protective legislation on ECT and may indeed introduce its own bills next session, some of which could conceivably corresspond to Assembly proposals.



SUBJECT: Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)

PURPOSE: To determine the impact on patient care


Wednesday July 18, 2001 10:00 AM
Roosevelt Hearing Room C
Legislative Office Building State Street, Second Floor Albany, New York

Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT), also known as shock treatment, has been a recognized, yet controversial treatment for certain types of mental illness. There are differing opinions as to the appropriateness of ECT and, historically, ECT has been used as a treatment of last resort.

While, New York State does not now require reporting of the use of ECT within the state, it appears that the use of this treatment option is increasing. Patient advocates are concerned that the legal safeguards for informed consent need to be strengthened. The issue of legal safeguards is a particular concern in the case of involuntary, or forced, application of ECT. Recent events regarding patients at the Pilgrim Psychiatric Center have highlighted this issue. According to the New York State Mental Hygiene Legal Services, applications for court ordered ECT increased 73% between 1999 and 2000.

Please see the reverse side for a list of subjects to which witnesses may direct their testimony, and for a description of the bills which will be discussed at the hearing.

Persons wishing to present pertinent testimony to the Committee at the above hearing should complete and return the enclosed reply form as soon as possible. It is important that the reply form be fully completed and returned so that persons may be notified in the event of emergency postponement or cancellation.

Oral testimony will be limited to 10 minutes’ duration. In preparing the order of witnesses, the Committee will attempt to accommodate individual requests to speak at particular times in view of special circumstances. These requests should be made on the attached reply form or communicated to Committee staff as early as possible. In the absence of a request, witnesses will be scheduled in the order in which reply forms are postmarked.

Ten copies of any prepared testimony should be submitted at the hearing registration desk. The Committee would appreciate advance receipt of prepared statements.

In order to further publicize these hearings, please inform interested parties and organizations of the Committee’s interest in hearing testimony from all sources.

In order to meet the needs of those who may have a disability, the Assembly, in accordance with its policy of non-discrimination on the basis of disability, as well as the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), has made its facilities and services available to all individuals with disabilities. For individuals with disabilities, accommodations will be provided, upon reasonable request, to afford such individuals access and admission to Assembly facilities and activities.

Member of Assembly
Chairman Committee on Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities


1. A. 9081 – Informed consent and related issues

2. A. 9082 – Establishing a temporary advisory council with certain responsibilities

3. A. 9083 – Reporting the incidence of ECT use in New York State

4. A. 9084 – Requiring all facilities that administer ECT to have readily accessible resources for emergency medical treatment

5. What legal safeguards need to be implemented regarding court ordered ECT?


Persons wishing to present testimony at the public hearing on Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) are requested to complete this reply form as soon as possible and mail it to:

Carl Letson
Legislative Associate
Assembly Committee on Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities
Room 522 – Capitol
Albany, New York 12248
(518) 455-4371
(518) 455-4693 (fax)

+-+ I plan to attend the following public hearing on Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) to be conducted by the Assembly Committee on Mental Health, Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities on July 18, 2001.

+-+ I plan to make a public statement at the hearing. My statement will be limited to 10 minutes, and I will answer any questions which may arise. I will provide 10 copies of my prepared statement.

+-+ I will address my remarks to the following subjects:

_____ _____________________________________

_____ _____________________________________

_____ _____________________________________

+-+ I do not plan to attend the above hearing.

+-+ I would like to be added to the Committee mailing list for notices and reports.

+-+ I would like to be removed from the Committee mailing list.

+-+ I will require assistance and/or handicapped accessibility information. Please specify the type of assistance required:



NAME: ______________________________________________________

TITLE: ____________________________________________________

ORGANIZATION: ______________________________________________

ADDRESS: ___________________________________________________

TELEPHONE: _________________________________________________

This “Mental Health E-News” posting is a service of the New York Ass’n of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services, a statewide coalition of people who use and/or provide community mental health services dedicated to improving services and social conditions for people with psychiatric disabilities. To join our list, e-mail us your request and, where appropriate, the name of your organization to NYAPRS@aol.com.
Save these dates!
September 11 – 14, 2001
NYAPRS 19th Annual Conference
‘Integration, Innovation and Inspiration:’ Expanding the Circle of Support at the Nevele Grande Resort, Ellenville New York
contact: Mary McLaughlin, NYAPRS
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(518) 436-0008; fax: (518) 436-0044

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