It is easy to forget that we are still, as a society, coming to terms with how we deal with and treat psychological conditions and injuries.
Remember, it is not very long ago that people with clear psychiatric conditions were ostracized, ridiculed, and not given the appropriate care and attention that genuine psychological illness requires.
As a society, and indeed, in culture more generally, we are becoming more understanding and accepting of psychological injury, and mental well‑being, and while we have come a long way, one of the inherent difficulties in treating psychological injury is that, like any injury, you need to be careful in the treatment being administered.
You may remember the story of Bobby Spriggs, the 66-year-old man who in 2016 suffered a prescription medication overdose at Oakden mental health facility, SA.
Bobby was found to have been given ten times his prescribed amount of medication, and was found dead with unexplained bruises on his body. (ABC News)
Ten times. Not double, not five times, ten times the prescribed amount of medication to safely treat Bobby’s condition.
Remember, when it comes to particular types of medication, even going over the recommended dosage by 10% can be dangerous So over-medicating someone by 900% is an error that leads to many questions.
Naturally, Bobby’s family searched for answers.
An inquiry was held into the practices of the facility and well, the findings are quite remarkable.
Multiple accounts of misconduct and mistreatment of elderly patients were uncovered, 21 staff members were reported to the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency and three incidents were reported to police. (ABC)
So as a result of Bobby’s death, we are looking at extensive examples of mistreatment of already vulnerable people, and possible further criminal charges.
Speaking with The Advertiser, SA Attorney-General Vickie Chapman has signalled that compensation for the tragic events will be “expedited” by the administration once they have been lodged with adequate supporting information.
There are concerns, however, that adequate supporting information may be hard to come by for those affected. It still remains to be seen whether this process is navigated with ease by the victims and their families.
As stated, yes, we have come a long way when we talk about the recognition, management, and treatment of mental health and a person’s psychological well‑being.
But so too do we need to be vigilant when it comes to the treatment part of such injuries.
As this case exhibits, either by intention or recklessness, the treatment that is provided to a person suffering an injury, any injury, must be done in a manner that meets the high threshold that is the standard required for such care.
Psychological well‑being mistreated can have deeply damaging effects, as Bobby’s case shows. Poorly treated individuals already suffering psychological ill-health can not only damage the individual, but the families as well.
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