Australia Disability Royal Commission hears teenager was left with severe disability after being given psychotropic medication

10:31  22 september  2020
10:31  22 september  2020 Source:   abc.net.au

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a close up of a man smiling for the camera: Oliver McGowan was happy and full of life (left) before he was given psychotropic medication that left him © Provided by ABC News Oliver McGowan was happy and full of life (left) before he was given psychotropic medication that left him "profoundly disabled" (right). (Supplied.)

Oliver McGowan was a school prefect, played representative football and athletics and was training to become a Paralympian.

The teenager, who lived with autism, focal partial epilepsy and an intellectual disability, was told by a neurologist he had full life expectancy and would eventually live independently.

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But Oliver's quality of life drastically deteriorated after he was prescribed a drug he and his parents begged doctors not to give him.

After suffering seizures in December 2015, Oliver was given psychotropic medication in a UK hospital, despite not having been diagnosed with psychosis or a mental illness.

Psychotropic medication refers to any drug capable of affecting the mind, emotions, or behaviour, including anti-psychotics, anti-depressants and mood stabilisers.

His mother, Paula McGowan, who now lives in Newcastle, gave evidence at the Disability Royal Commission in Sydney today as it examined the use of psychotropic medication on people with disabilities.

The extent of reliance on such medication and its effects on the health and wellbeing of people with disabilities will be under scrutiny throughout the hearing.

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Medical staff regularly prescribes psychotropic medications without informing residents of their diagnosis, the reason they are being prescribed the drug Mental disability : Refers to mental health problems such as depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. This term is used interchangeably

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Ms McGowan told the commission the effect of the drugs on Oliver was catastrophic.

"We were told by the doctors that Oliver's brain was so badly swollen it was bulging out the base of his skull … Oliver was now profoundly disabled," she said.

"That beautiful smile that we saw earlier, his sense of humour … were gone forever.

"The doctors told us that Oliver had no chance of recovery or return.

"Cruelly, Oliver was reassured that this would not happen, and his voice was not heard and it cost him his life."

In November 2016, at the age of 18, Oliver died in Bristol, England, due to a combination of pneumonia and hypoxic brain injury.

Ms McGowan told the commission she hoped sharing Oliver's story could lead to the Australian Government implementing standardised mandatory training for healthcare workers.

"It's not fair that professionals, clinicians, are not given the education and skills required to help them and enable patients with intellectual disability and autism to have better healthcare outcomes," Ms McGowan said.

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"Psychiatric disabilities " is a generic term referring to a range of syndromes and conditions characterized by Given that the regular and intermittent use of psychotropic medications has become Individuals with psychiatric disabilities often experience co-occurring disabilities such as

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This does not mean the use of the drug was illegal, but that it was administered without prior approval from the patient in an emergency.

Ms McGowan told the commission she has made ground through a campaign overseas, with the UK Government last year committing to introducing mandatory training in learning disability and autism for healthcare workers.

She is pushing for a similar program to be adopted in Australia.

"The key lessons that could be applied in Australia are awareness, training and communication," she said.

"It's vital that the patient is kept at the heart of all decision-making,"

The hearing continues.

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