BY MENTAL HYGIENE LEGAL SERVICES
The MHLS for all four Judicial Departments submit this letter in connection with the issue of how informed consent is obtained for ECT.
1. The OMH regulations do not contain adequate safeguards for ensuring that the patient has been fully informed of the risks and benefits of the procedure and is capable of giving informed consent.
2. In the case of non-objecting, incapacitated patients, we question whether OMH has the power to vest relatives with the authority to give surrogate consent to ECT. We also question whether the OMH regulations on surrogate consent for ECT comport with the current statutory framework
3. The OMH regulations are inadequate with respect to the procedure to be followed when surrogate consent for ECT is sought and refused.
4. The Legislature should consider amending Section 35 of the Judiciary Law to make it clear that independent psychiatrists and psychologists may be appointed by the courts in ECT and other cases in which judicial authorization is sought for treatment.