The Florida Department of Children and Families, or DCF, in the past has had a terrible reputation of covering up and denying reports of child abuse within the foster care system. The recent Florida wrongful death of a little boy in foster care has been handled much differently this time around.
Seven-year-old Gabriel Myers had been put on several psychiatric drugs for depression, and ADHD. After parents, family members and a system let him down, the little boy is assumed to have killed himself in the shower of his Broward County home.
Based on Gabriel’s death, DCF set out to find out exactly how many kids are placed on psychiatric mind-altering medications, many of which have dangerous side effects that can include suicidal thoughts. This kind risk imposed on children would require the counsel of an experienced Jacksonville pharmaceutical litigation lawyer who can help determine through an investigation who is responsible for the defective drug.
The Florida Times Union report finds that hundreds of kids in foster care have been placed on psychiatric drugs by their caregivers in Northeast Florida – 205 kids in Duval, Clay, and Nassau counties were found to be on at least one psychotropic drug. In St. Johns, Putnam, Flagler, and Volusia counties, 136 kids are medicated and 76 are on drugs in Baker, Union, Bradford, Gilchrist, Alachua and Levy counties.
What’s especially shocking is that no one gave authority for these drugs to be used on the children, and most of the drugs are not even approved for child use.
Under Florida law, parental or guardian consent must be granted in writing before children in foster care can be given psychotropic drugs to modify behavior. Oversight by a psychiatrist is required, along with court orders. DCF will now aggressively seek out those parents or guardians to get consent where it was missing in about 16 percent of the cases. According to the report, kids who stayed with family members were medicated about 4 percent of the time, while kids in group homes were medicated about 30 percent of the time.
At Farah and Farah, our skilled Jacksonville personal injury and wrongful death attorneys have been defending the rights of those injured or killed by the negligence of pharmaceutical companies and other large parties. Call us today for a free consultation at 800-533-3555.