Today’s papers in Scotland have some graphic headlines about electroconvulsive therapy (ECT): “Inquiry launched as ‘electric shock’ blunder raids mum’s memory bank” says The Scotsman; “Docs wipe out mum’s memory” says The Scottish Sun, while The Herald Scotland goes with “Electric shock probe after wrong treatment blunder”.
The story concerns a young women who was prescribed unilateral ECT but ended up having bilateral treatment when the clinic where she was being treated (at Stobhill Hospital in Glasgow) ignored her psychiatrist’s instructions. She has been left with memory loss. What the articles do not point out is that it is in fact the vast majority of ECT patients in Scotland receive bilateral rather than unilateral treatment. It is unusual for someone in Scotland to be prescribed unilateral ECT. The Scottish ECT Accreditation Network’s annual report has the statistics:
“During 2009, 93% of episodes [courses] involved bilateral, and 14 unilateral, treatments. There was a change of treatment mode in 10% of ECT courses. The use of unilateral ECT has increased since 2006 when 9% of episodes involved such treatments”.
Stobhill hospital, according to the report, gave 49 courses of ECT to 40 patients in 2009, a total which included patients from the Vale of Leven, Parkhead and Gartnavel Royal hospitals.