Mental Health Hearings in Texas: Texas Monthly Please Investigate

Posted in the Giddings Forum

More Furious

Manassas, VA

#1 Aug 2, 2013
Something needs to be done about this. Apparently judges in Texas answer to no one.

I can't give names of persons and places because this might result in some legal action. My mother has bipolar disorder and got very depressed and psychotic. She had to be admitted to a psychiatric hospital in a town east of Dallas. She refused to eat or drink because she thought her food was poisoned and refused to take her medications, including her heart/blood pressure medication. The doctor filed out papers to get her committed and to allow the hospital to give her medications under court order. The judge's staff gave us the run-around and claimed they could not hold a hearing unless someone went to the courthouse and paid the fee. We did that. The process was started on a Thursday, and they dragged their feet and did not have the hearing until the next Tuesday even though the doctor told them that my mother would likely end up getting dehydrated if she didn't get better fast. When Tuesday rolled around, they would not tell us or the people at the hospital exactly when the hearing would be held. When they all got together at their own convenience, they tried to get the doctor on the phone to testify. As expected, the doctor was not just sitting by the phone all day, as he had other patients to see. So when the hearing finally got started, the judge spent more time berating the doctor for not being immediately available than he did investigating what was going on with my mother. The assistant district attorney, who was supposed to pursue the interests of the state in regards to the public's (and my mother's) safety acted like he knew nothing about the case, didn't ask us any questions, and didn't call any witnesses. The court appointed ad-litem attorney was mainly interested in trying to prove my mother's doctor didn't know what he was doing and should have run other tests.(Well, moron if you knew anything about the case, you would have known that my mother was REFUSING any medical treatment, including tests.)

As if all of that was not frightening enough, here's what happened in the end: THE JUDGE DID NOT EVEN GIVE A RULING. He asked my mother if she would be willing to take medications if another doctor ordered them. My mother said yes, so the judge told the deputy to take her back to the hospital and told my mother just to ask for another doctor.

Of course, my mother continued to refuse to take medications or to eat or drink. The social worker from the hospital called me the next day and said that the only solution was to take my mother somewhere like Dallas or Houston where an appropriate hearing could be held to commit her to a psychiatric hospital and to give her medication under a judges order. We picked up my mother, but before we could get her into another psychiatric hospital, she got real dehydrated and confused and ended up in a medical hospital. She never recovered and ended up in a nursing home, where she died.

I called the doctor from the psychiatric hospital and he told me that judges do this kind of thing all of the time. I called several lawyers to see what could be done, and they all said that there was little they could do, as it is impossible to sue a judge and that it was not likely the judge would ever get in trouble for this kind of thing.

Please write your legislator about this. This cannot be allowed to continue. It should be a crime for judges to refuse to do their jobs when human beings lives are on the line like that.

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