Malpractice: When Your Doctor Doesn't Advise on New Therapies and Treatments for Depression Like ECT
Patients who suffer from chronic illness, as well as those recovering from surgery, depend on their medical team to provide them with information about new therapies and treatments. According to a June 2008 report published by the Associated Press, for many reasons, including fears of malpractice litigation, physicians are sometimes hesitant to recommend new treatments for depression such as ECT.According to the experts interviewed on this topic, electroconvulsive shock therapy (ECT) offers symptom relief to patients who have not been able to find the same results with antidepressant medications.
While ECT was once associated with frightening stories detailed in movies from that period involving mental illness, the procedure has been extensively fine-tuned. Patients can now undergo the procedure on an out-patient basis. They are given general anesthesia and a muscle relaxant, and the treatment lasts just a few seconds. Patients wake up a couple of minutes later. According to the American Psychiatric Association, they recommend the procedure to be administered six to twelve times over a one month period, depending on the needs of a particular patient.
One of the more vocal proponents for the procedure is former Massachusetts First Lady Kitty Dukakis. After 17 years of depression that resisted other treatments and a variety of medications, she turned to ECT in 2001. Her experience with ECT is chronicled in her 2006 book "Shock: The Healing Power of Electroconvulsive Therapy."
Though an estimated 19 million Americans are treated for depression issues each year, only 100,000 adults receive ECT annually. Physicians are reluctant to recommend the procedure because of its former reputation in the 1940s and because of one of the more common side effects: ECT patients often develop varying degrees of memory impairment. There are also financial concerns why doctors do not suggest ECT therapy: private insurers are reluctant to approve the course of treatments recommended by the APA, instead only approving a few sessions at a time.
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