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Elder abuse: Monterey County Public Guardian seeks order for chemical restraint

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The Monterey County Public Guardian is seeking authority to forcibly administer antipsychotic (psychotropic) medications to conservatee and elder abuse victim Margarita Zelada. The FDA has repeatedly warned against administration of psychotropic medications to elderly patients.

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California’s Department of Aging posted the following comments about use of antipsychotic drugs on elderly patients.

Title 22 of the California Code of Regulations, Section 72018 defines a CHEMICAL RESTRAINT as: “a drug used to control behavior and used in a manner not required to treat the patient’s medical symptoms.” All residents have a right to be free from the use of chemical restraints. (42 CFR §483.13(a); 22 CCR §72527(a)(23); 22 CCR §72319), yet, the use of antipsychotic drugs on those with dementia is common practice and often used as an alternative to the needed care of these individuals.

California’s Notice of Conservatee’s Rights states the conservatee has the right to:

Make his or her own medical decisions

California's Handbook for Conservators states on page 284:

Psychotropic drugs

Prescription medicines used to alter cognition, mood, or behavior. These medicines are sometimes used to treat persons with dementia. You need specific prior court authority based on a strong showing to authorize the use of these drugs in the treatment of the conservatee.

Violation of Margarita’s rights is nothing new for the Monterey County Public Guardian. A request for chemical restraint is the latest in a series of violations of rights and denial of due process.

In March 2013, the Monterey County Public Guardian had Margarita forcibly removed from her daughter’s home in Pacific Grove, California. Witnesses reported that ten police officers stormed the house with guns drawn. They pulled Margarita from her bed, rolled her in a sheet, and strapped her to a gurney. A waiting ambulance took Margarita from her daughter’s home, never to be allowed to return.

Since March 2013, the Public Guardian allowed Margarita only three short visits with her daughter. During those visits, Margarita had strong words for her false imprisonment by the Public Guardian.

The most important thing for any person is their liberty. I want my liberty. I am in prison.

They lie. They lie!

They are thieves and liars.

The Public Guardian responded to Margarita’s comments by terminating visitation with her daughter. The Public Guardian sought and obtained a court order to strip Margarita of her right to meet with elder rights advocates. The Public Guardian has denied Margarita all visitation since November 15, 2013.

Family and advocates suspect that Margarita may be protesting her false imprisonment and unlawful isolation. The Public Guardian is now seeking authority for chemical restraint, defined by the State of California as a drug used to control behavior and used in a manner not required to treat the patient’s medical symptoms.

On Wednesday, January 29, 2014, Monterey County Probate Court is scheduled to hear a petition by the Public Guardian. That petition states:

3. The conservatee needs or would benefit from the administration of certain medications appropriate for the care and treatment of dementia.

4. The conservatee lacks the capacity to give consent to the administration of the appropriate medications.

9. The capacity determination of Dr. Blatt, which has been filed under separate confidential cover as Exhibit B and which is incorporated fully herein by this reference, contains the following information:

a. The deficits in the conservatee’s impaired mental function;

b. The correlation between mental function deficit(s) and the conservatee’s inability to respond knowingly and intelligently to queries about the recommended medical treatment or inability to participate in a treatment decision about appropriate medication by means of a rational thought process;

c. A statement of opinion that the conservatee lacks the capacity to give informed consent to the administration of the psychotropic mediation, and that the conservatee needs or would benefit from the proposed appropriate mediation.

If the court issues the order, the Public Guardian will have authority to forcibly administer antipsychotic drugs as chemical restraint of a woman who was torn from her daughter and kept in unlawful isolation for nearly a year.

The Public Guardian reports to the Monterey County Board of Supervisors. Readers may contact the Board at the following email addresses.

Monterey County Board of Supervisors

District 1: Fernando Armenta, district1@co.monterey.ca.us

District 2: Louis R. Calcagno, district2@co.monterey.ca.us

District 3: Simón Salinas, district3@co.monterey.ca.us

District 4: Jane Parker, district4@co.monterey.ca.us

District 5: Dave Potter, district5@co.monterey.ca.us

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