Report: Medication System Failing Foster Kids


TALLAHASSEE (CBS4) ― The system meant to protect children in foster care failed because doctors and case managers routinely failed to complete treatment plans, failed to share information, or properly document the usage of powerful psychiatric drugs, according to the Department of Children and Families. One of the children that it failed was 7-year-old Gabriel Myers, who hanged himself in April.

However, the study also said it would be a mistake to blame Gabriel’s death solely on the drug Symbyax. The drug is an antipsychotic used to treat bipolar disorder, also known as manic depression. It can also be used as a treatment for clinical depression if two other drugs have failed to treat the depression.

The study from DCF said that numerous rule and laws on meds for children in foster care weren’t followed for all 6 and 7 year olds, according to CBS4 news partner the Miami Herald. Among the other findings reported:

In 86 percent of cases, the prescribing physician didn’t complete what’s known as a Psychotherapeutic Medication Treatment Plan, which helps case workers, legal guardians, judges and other physicians determine a child’s mental well being.

In 76 percent of the cases, the case worker didn’t provide parents with information about the psychotropic drugs their kids were being prescribed. Nor did the case worker help arrange transportation or phone conversations between the doctor and the child’s guardian.

In 89 percent of the cases where parental consent wasn’t obtained to medicate children, case managers failed to inform state lawyers that they were seeking a court order to administer the medication.

The study comes one year after a similar review that examined the drugging of children in state care under the age of 6. The committee probing the child-welfare system plans to issue a report by Aug. 20.

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