Ruling says hospital can’t force anti-psychotic drug on patient after questionable schizophrenia diagnosis
Nearly four years after staff at Toronto’s Saint Michael’s Hospital started slipping an anti-psychotic drug into a woman’s orange juice while treating her for lupus, Ontario’s highest court has tossed aside the ruling that allowed her to be drugged against her will, in part because the psychiatrist who diagnosed her with schizophrenia admitted he was “making parts of [her symptoms] up.”
In a sharply worded ruling, the Court of Appeal said there was “no evidence” the woman ever agreed to medication, and overturned the Consent and Capacity Board’s “unreasonable” finding that the woman was mentally incapable of doing so.
“It certainly is a forceful ruling,” said Anita Szigeti, lawyer for the woman, Amy Anten. “It’s important for her personally. In my respectful submission, it’s also very important — and the court appears to have agreed by considering the matter on its merits — to give the Consent and Capacity Board, and also the first appellate level of reviewing court, some guidance on how to really weigh the evidence that goes to the heart of the Charter-protected right of the person against forced treatment.”
The judgment clarifies what kind of evidence to prove a person’s incapacity will withstand legal scrutiny, and it reinforces a patient’s right to refuse medication, which the Supreme Court of Canada upheld in 2003.