Healthcare News & Insights

New Jersey sued for alleged mistreatment of psych patients

One advocacy group is suing the state for violating patient rights. The suit, brought by Disability Rights New Jersey (DRNJ), hinges on the state’s practice of not allowing patients to appeal to a judge or other third-party when a doctor or hospital decrees they should be involuntarily medicated.

DRNJ claims the practice violates patients’ rights and leaves them vulnerable to harmful side effects and emotional distress from the forced medication. Among the cases cited in its filing is one patient who paces non-stop due to discomfort from medication side effects. The exertion is wearing down the skin on his legs.

DRNJ lawyers say that too often, doctors see a reluctance to take medication as yet another symptom of mental illness — making it more likely that a patient with reasonable objections to a medication will be forced to take it.

The New Jersey Department of Human Services and Department of Health and Senior Services were both named in the suit. So far, neither has commented on the case.

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