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Archive for the ‘Mental Health Issues’ Category

3 Accused of Beating Mentally Impaired Man at State Hospital in Pembroke Pines

As a children’s rights law firm representing Florida foster children and others at risk of child abuse, child sex abuse, and other harm, Talenfeld Law is aware of the perils society’s youngest and most vulnerable citizens face. But developmentally disabled adults are not immune from physical harm.

In Pembroke Pines, three former employees of the South Florida State Hospital have been accused of beating a mentally impaired patient, according to reporting of court documents. According to the Sun-Sentinel, the plaintiff, identified as C.S., was 25 when three employees in 2014 tried to restrain him after C.S. allegedly struck a female staffer, who declined to pursue charges.


Mental Health Privatization Plan Could Harm Mentally Ill, Result in Lawsuits and Damage Claims

The Department of Children and Families plan to privatize mental health services has been called by one judge a “rush to privatization…that will harm Broward’s mentally ill” and mental health patients, and one that’s “going to take a bad system and make it even worse” by Broward Public Defender Howard Finkelstein. Worse still, attorneys and advocates believe it could result in harm, injuries, even avoidable, wrongful death — and personal injury lawsuits and damage claims.

The Sun-Sentinel wrote, “The privatization wave that has swept over so much of state government was supposed to come to Broward’s mental health administration by 2013. But budget cuts to Florida’s Department of Children & Families have prompted a speedup, with DCF now trying to hand off oversight duties to a private Miami-Dade-based outfit by Oct. 1.”

Read the entire story here.

Miami Herald: Suspension of Miami Doctor Lifted in Denis Maltez case

As reported by the Miami Herald, an appeals court has set aside the Department of Health’s emergency suspension of Miami psychiatrist Steven L. Kaplan, accused of over-prescribing anti-psychotic medication to an autistic child.

The boy, Denis Maltez, died in May 2007 at age 12. The medical examiner said he stopped breathing in part because of the heavy prescription drugs he was taking, but the psychiatrist disputes that.

The May 26 ruling by the First District Court of Appeal stayed the May 7 emergency suspension issued by Surgeon General Ana Viamonte Ros “pending a final disposition” of the case, records show. That can take months, and if the physician contests it, years.

According to child advocate and Broward County attorney Howard Talenfeld, who represented Denis’ mother, Martha Quesada, in a civil suit over the boy’s death, he had not heard about the appeals court ruling. In any event, the suit against Kaplan “is over,” Talenfeld said, indicating it has been settled.

Read the entire story here

Florida DCF Blasted By Task Force on Foster Child’s Suicide & Sex Abuse Issues

Florida’s child welfare system is taking heat for its handling of the care of Gabriel Myers, a 7-year-old Broward foster child who a task force says was inadequately treated for the sexual abuse he endured. The report also notes how the state failed to prevent Gabriel from sexually acting out against other children.

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel covered this story, writing how the Gabriel Myers Work Group, which was appointed by Department of Children & Families Secretary George Sheldon, investigated Gabriel’s April 16, 2009, death. The Miami Herald received a copy of the report, which it says “identified scores of shortcomings in the state’s care of the boy.”

Howard Talenfeld, President of statewide advocacy group Florida’s Children First, presented recommendations to the Gabriel Myer’s Commission on January 7, 2010 and many of his recommendation were incorporated into the Task Forces Final Recommendations. Click here to view his presentation to the Commission.

Florida Suspends Doctor Who Prescribed Psychotropic Meds, But Questions Linger

Florida’s Agency for Health Care Administration suspended the license of the doctor who prescribed a combination of three psychiatric drugs to 12 year old autistic child Dennis Maltez when he died of serotonin syndrome.

The Miami Herald wrote about the case in the article, “Florida suspends Miami psychiatrist in boy’s overdose death.” The paper noted that “red flags were overlooked in the 12-year-old’s prescription drug death, and how a second report blamed the system in the tragic case of 7-year-old Gabriel Myers’ suicide.”

State regulators wrote that Kaplan committed medical malpractice, and that he posed “an immediate, serious danger to the health, safely, or welfare of the public.”

The real question that has yet to be answered by the state of Florida is how many other physicians in the state of Florida who prescribe dangerous combinations of psychotropic medications to disabled persons and foster children which are paid for by the state’s Medicaid program will be allowed to ignore the letters and visits from the AHCA children’s pharmacy management program that red-flag these combinations of medications as potentially dangerous? How many more children like Denis Maltez and Gabriel Myers need to die before the state will do something?

Miami Herald Story: Red Flags Overlooked in Prescription Drug Death of 12-Year-Old Denis Maltez

A Miami Herald story this weekend – Red Flags Overlooked in Prescription Drug Death of 12-Year-Old – highlights the troubling and allegedly deadly use of psychotropic, prescription drugs on young patients in group homes. And it raises troubling questions.

As the Herald reporter wrote, “The death of 12-year-old Denis Maltez raises troubling questions about the state’s safety net for disabled kids. The Miami-Dade Medical Examiner’s Office attributed the death to a life-threatening side effect of over-medication.”

Attorney Howard Talenfeld urged healthcare and disability administrators in a letter to better protect disabled children, “who are powerless to protect themselves from being unnecessarily drugged for the convenience of staff. . . . Without proper oversight and action by your respective state agencies, these individuals will continue to be in harm’s way.”

Among the questions the Herald raised in Denis’ case: (more…)

Sun-Sentinel: Child’s Death Exposes a Big Problem in Foster-Care Reform

THE ISSUE: Child’s death exposes a big problem in foster-care reform.

Sun Sentinel Editorial Board

It wasn’t that long ago when the Florida Department of Children & Families was seen as a hapless bureaucracy. Whether it was their seeking to incarcerate an 8-year-old to ensure he received proper care, or simply losing youngsters supposedly under its care, it didn’t take much for DCF to make a mockery of its role in child welfare.

The good news is that DCF is no longer that troubled agency. Unfortunately, many of those problems that once bedeviled DCF now belong to those local nonprofits and government agencies that are under contract with the state to provide foster care and other child protective services. Thank community-based care for that. (more…)

Florida Department of Children and Families’ Role ‘Should’ be to Protect Foster Kids

By Brian J. Cabrey

As published as a letter to the editor in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel

The April 16 suicide death of 7-year-old Gabriel Myers, a foster child in the custody and care of the Florida Department of Children and Families, shocks the conscience. Gabriel apparently hung himself with the shower hose in the bathroom of his foster home in Margate.

The victim of sexual abuse, as well as other abuse and neglect that resulted in him being removed from his family and placed in foster care, Gabriel had been prescribed a variety of mind-altering psychotropic medications while in foster care to deal with the myriad behavioral problems he was experiencing, no doubt largely the result of the abuse he had suffered. Reports are that he was on three or four different drugs, or combinations thereof, at the time of his death.

What is almost as shocking to the conscience as a 7-year-old wanting to, knowing how to and actually committing suicide, is that a 7-year-old would be on not just one, but multiple psychotropic medications. Most such drugs have never been tested for pediatric use, and have not been FDA-approved for such use. Their prescription and use with kids is generally “off label,” meaning there are no approved instructions or guidelines for such use. (more…)

Florida DCF Releases Report on Psychotropic Drug Use in Foster Children

Department of Children and Families Secretary George Sheldon discussed the Department’s Psychotherapeutic Drug Status Report at a media conference this week.

The report was compiled by DCF staff at the request of Secretary Sheldon following the apparent suicide of 7-year-old Gabriel Myers on April 16 in Margate. (Access the Report Here)

Following a full review of Gabriel’s case files, officials determined that he had been prescribed several psychotropic drugs that had not been accurately reflected in the DCF database that contains case notes and histories of foster care children.

Additionally, there was no indication of a signed parental consent form or a court order authorizing the administration of the drugs, as required.

Among the findings: (more…)

Florida DCF Secretary Sheldon Convenes Psychotropics & Foster Kids Workgroup

Department of Children and Families (DCF) Secretary George H. Sheldon today announced that the Department is establishing a workgroup to determine the facts and circumstances surrounding the tragic death of 7-year-old Gabriel Myers. Gabriel died on April 16 when police indicated he apparently hanged himself in the shower of his foster parents’ Margate home.

At issue: The level of use of psychotropic and psycho-therapeutic medications among foster care children.