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New California Law to Protect Foster Children from Overmedication

As San Diego child injury attorneys, we are pleased that Gov. Jerry Brown recently signed legislation that will protect California foster children from being overprescribed powerful psychiatric medications. We are also hopeful that the new laws will improve oversight over the medical care provided to children in the state’s foster system.

A Mercury News investigative report prompted the legislation. As we previously discussed on this blog, nearly one quarter of children in the California foster care system have been prescribed psychiatric drugs. Equally concerning, many of the physicians who treat California’s foster children have deep ties to the pharmaceutical industry. Doctors who prescribe medications to these vulnerable children are frequent recipients of payments from drug companies, often in the form of gifts and remuneration for meals, travel, speaking engagements and medical research.

The investigation suggested that doctors are not looking out primarily for the children’s best interests, prompting an investigation into the misuse of psychotropic medication in the foster care system. California lawmakers also proposed legislation intended to curb over-prescription.

As detailed by California Healthline, the legislative package signed by Gov. Brown included the following measures:

  • Senate Bill 238 will require the state to provide more data on the number of children in foster care who are prescribed psychotropic drugs, along with other medications that might cause harmful interactions;
  • Senate Bill 319 will establish a system for public health nurses to monitor and oversee anyone in foster care who is prescribed psychotropic medications; and
  • Senate Bill 484 will establish treatment protocols and state oversight of psychotropic drugs in group-home settings.

The Children's Partnership, a California child advocacy organization, commended the Governor for signing the legislation, stating: “We applaud the Governor for signing this package of bills that takes critical and significant steps forward in addressing the serious health, social, emotional, and educational damage caused by an epidemic of inappropriate and dangerous overprescription of psychotropics and antipsychotics to children and youth in foster care.”

If your child or someone you love has been seriously injured due to someone else’s negligence, don’t hesitate to contact a San Diego personal injury attorney at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage for a free consultation.