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Decision overturned about ECT treatment

Queensland Advocacy Incorporated assisted Bill* who was subject to multiple successive electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) applications to treat his schizoaffective disorder.

Bill had considerable insight into his illness, had long been opposed to ECT, and was well supported by a family member. Bill's primary goal was to be allowed more time for an alternative antipsychotic medication to be trialled along with psychotherapy, to manage his symptoms, and was open to a trial of ECT down the track if his chosen strategies proved ineffective.

The Mental Health Review Tribunal refused the first application, as it was not satisfied that, on balance, the treatment was in Bill's best interests, having regard to his longstanding opposition to ECT expressed not only to the Tribunal, but to other family members when he was well. Just two weeks later, the treating team brought a second ECT application. The team also made significant changes to his treatment and care the days prior to the Mental Health Review Tribunal hearing.

Queensland Advocacy Incorporated brought these matters to the Mental Health Review Tribunal's attention, but also offered the treating team a way through the impasse, via a supported decision-making process. At the second Mental Health Review Tribunal hearing, the treating team immediately withdrew the application and acknowledged Bill's views and wishes. Bill has been discharged from hospital and is now living back in his home.

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