Patient’s Epilepsy Allegedly Due to Electroconvulsive Therapy

Cody Porcoro

Written by
on October 31, 2017

After a patient with a history of depression began to suffer from non-convulsive seizures in the aftermath of electroconvulsive therapy treatment, her emergency services physician was litigated against for negligence. The electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), which causes an intentional and brief seizure in the patient’s brain to simulate changes in their brain chemistry, was not recorded to have any immediate negative effects after the procedure. One day later, however, the patient presented to the hospital’s emergency services; she was feeling excessively disoriented, but the ER doctor relied on her psychiatrist’s opinion that delirium was unlikely to have developed in the aftermath of the surgery. A test to scan electrical activity in the patient’s bain was not ordered, and the patient was scheduled to see a neurologist two days later, who saw abnormal electrical activity in her brain after ordering a scan. She was subsequently diagnosed with non-convulsive status epilepticus, and the emergency room doctor was sued for failing to order a scan sooner.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Have you seen patients following electroconvulsive therapy in the Emergency Division?

Expert Witness Response E-129716

I am an Emergency Medicine Attending at a major academic university. I have seen a few cases of patients presenting to the emergency department post-ECT, but not many.

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