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Questions about electroconvulsive therapy

Fred*, a young indigenous man was the subject of successive applications for electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) for his diagnosed schizoaffective disorder. Queensland Advocacy Incorporated helped to question the evidence base for the proposed therapy (which is less well-established), standards for second opinion reports, and the impact of cultural and communication barriers in the diagnosis and treatment of indigenous patients. 

Queensland Advocacy Incorporated appealed the initial decision to approve ECT to the Mental Health Court.  While the appeal was unsuccessful, the questions raised during the process has resulted in changes to the treating team’s approach to Fred, including a more sensitive approach to his cultural issues.

The case also saw productive collaborations between Queensland Advocacy Incorporated, the Office of the Public Guardian and Office of the Public Advocate which has resulted in increased consultation and cross-referrals in other matters.

*Not his real name.

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