Unlawful treatment

My client informs me that she has just been given her depot without her consent. She was on a CTO until yesterday when the MHT discharged it. She says the nurse arrived from the depot clinic and she firmly declined but they insisted. Of course, even if she had still been on a CTO this should not have happened. I will write a stern letter to the CRC and Care co but I feel that she should be able to claim compensation. I can make vague noises about this in the letter but does anyone know of a firm who might actively pursue this? I know they will say that she was ‘persuaded’ to have it but her views were made completely clear at the MHT-she had stated she would decline to have accept once discharged.

Even under the original CTO she would probably have needed a recall to assess and encourage medication compliance. Without authority this could be described as an assault surely! A stern letter may be written but would the individual wish to pursue it legally as such vis CJA!

It shouldn’t happen…

It surely should not but the patient would not be capable of pursuing it herself and it is not something we would cover.

What about Bindmans or Irwin Mitchell?

Do you think it is something they could do ‘no win no fee’ as Legal aid would not be available I don’t think.

Then where is the care coordinator for the client or the AMHP who recommended the CTO couldn’t they support the client. Where lies the responsibility under the Care Act?

Any local firm providing PI/Clinical negligence could assist your client and give her advice about the merits and value of a potential claim and advice on CFA, but you might want to ask for the medical record surrounding the event before advising the client to take legal advice.
There should be a clear record of what the client agreed to and why the medication was given. In particular, there should be a record as to how your client came to be in a position to have the medication in the first place, if she was so resistant. I doubt force was used to administer the medication (but you might want to rule that out).
I think your first focus should be on making sure that the position is clear before the next dose becomes due, and if necessary your client should put clearly in writing whether she accepts or refuses her medication.
Also make sure you record in writing to the client the potential limitation she may have for a claim and that you cannot action any claim for her. This will protect you.

Hope this helps.

There are many specialised firms in this area. Switlaskis are well regarded in the field. Southerns for another.

I would have a great many concerns based on the rightly brief description of the case. On the face of it I find the actions of the authorities barely credible but sadly not uncommon.

I don’t see how compensation would help this client but a recognition of poor quality of care might be helpful.

If you’re talking clinical negligence, it would be hard to see what the injury was (from the perspective of a compensation lawyer). I once had a client who was suicidal and on a 24/7 1:1. The staff messed up and she was left alone for enough time to find a ligature point. They found her when her lips had already turned blue, but thankfully she survived. I tried to get a PI lawyer to take the case on but was told that there was no significant injury (just a sore neck) and since she was so mentally unwell already, it would have been too difficult to prove that the event caused a psychiatric injury. So, sadly, I don’t think you’re likely to have any luck with a PI solicitor. But if you find anyone willing to take this on, PLEASE share their details!!!
I think criminal assault/formal complaint may be the only routes, but it may end up in a horrible situation of your client’s word against the professional’s and we all know how those situations usually end. Good luck!

Hi all-thanks for replies. I will get the medical records. I think the position is particularly clear in this case as the client had been discharged by a tribunal two days before on the basis that she would no longer agree the depot once discharged. I await a reply to my outraged letters.
I think you are right Catherine. I am always amazed at how high the PI threshold is. I had a client who was given a massive accidental overdose and nearly died and also a client who dragged herself around with a broken leg for three days but neither had any lasting damage so we got nowhere. I think a little compensation is always good and indicates to clients that their rights have been respected so I might ask for a modest amount and see where we get to.

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