Bill would change policy in Texas homes for disabled - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

Bill would change policy in Texas homes for disabled

Amarillo, TX - Psychiatric patients in Texas should have more say in their own treatment, according to one state senator.  Under current policy, residents in state-sponsored homes for the disabled can refuse certain medications ... unless they're administered intravenously.  And Texas Senator Judith Zaffirini is pushing to change that policy to give both patients and physicians a voice in the matter.

Currently, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission allows medical professionals to administer pro re nata, or PRN medications to residents in state facilities.  And residents do have the right to refuse such drugs unless it's in an injectable form.

Senate Bill 35 wouldn't change either of those policies, but would instead limit the circumstances under which injections can be ordered.

"The idea behind it is that our clients are people too, and everybody needs to be treated with dignity," explains Jim Womack of Texas Panhandle Centers in Amarillo.  "If the client is not in immediate physical danger, in danger of hurting themselves or others, they have the right to control their own destiny."

A sister bill, SB 34, would tighten current regulations as to who is qualified to administer medication in state facilities without the supervision of a physician.

"It appears that in these facilities beforehand, people that didn't have any medical background could administer the medications how they saw fit," says Womack, "but this gives more oversight over the administration of medications."

In her analysis, Senator Zaffirini cited a 2008 report from the Department of Justice that found many instances in which patients were prescribed multiple drugs for the same condition.

IF YOU'D LIKE TO SEE AN ANALYSIS OF BOTH BILLS FOR YOURSELF, follow the links attached to this story.

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