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Bill allowing patients to refuse drugs considered

Nursing home, state hospital patients already have those rights

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People living in state homes for the disabled would get the right to refuse psychoactive drugs under a proposal advancing in the Texas Legislature.

In a hearing before the Senate Health and Human Services Committee Tuesday, Laredo Democratic Sen. Judith Zaffirini said her bill would extend the same rights already granted to patients in nursing homes and state hospitals.

The state operates 13 residential facilities housing more than 3,600 people with mental and physical disabilities.

Under current law, facility managers with no medical training can make a patient take sedatives, hypnotics, stimulants and anti-psychotics for unspecified mental disorders.

The bill would ban the use of drugs for punishment. But it would allow the facility's staff to override a patient's refusal with a court order, guardian's consent or a medical emergency.


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