House gives preliminary OK to mental health medication bill

The Maryland House gave preliminary approval Saturday to a bill that would make it easier for caregivers to administer medication to patients in mental hospitals against their wishes.

The action clears the way for a final House vote Monday on the measure, which is based in part on recommendations from a panel set up by Gov. Martin O'Malley after the 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn.  Similar legislation was passed unanimously in the Senate.

Some advocates for people with mental illness argue that such measures are inhumane and violate patients’ rights. But proponents of the legislation contend it is sometimes necessary to medicate patients without their consent to prevent their condition from deteriorating.

The bill is sponsored by Del. Dan K. Morhaim, a Baltimore County Democrat who is the only physician in the General Assembly.  The bill would require that a clinical panel review a doctor’s decision to prescribe medication against a patient’s will.



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