Psychiatrist defends electric shock treatment in NSW

ABC News (Australia)
Nov 18 2006

The chief psychiatrist in New South Wales has defended the use of electric shock therapy in the state’s hospitals.

Government figures show the use of electric shock therapy has doubled in NSW in the past decade and more than a dozen children under the age of 14 have been given the treatment.

But Associate Professor John Basson says the perceived increase is not accurate because records of electric shock therapy were not reliable a decade ago and did not reflect the true number of cases.

He says there is no recorded cases of children receiving the treatment in the past two years, but his colleagues would not support a ban on the practice.

“Across the board they wouldn’t wish to lose it as a possible treatment in very, very rare and unusual cases where the life of the child was put at risk,” he said.

“This would be a treatment of extremely last resort.

“Recently we’ve been very much more scrupulous and that plays a part.

“You’ve got to be careful that we’re not comparing apples with oranges. We’ve got to compare apples with apples and we are now in a situation where we can compare.

“I don’t see that sort of increase that would cause us concern or would cause us to question.”

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