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In re Jennifer H.

August 13, 2002

IN RE JENNIFER H. (ASSERTED TO BE A PERSON SUBJECT TO INVOLUNTARY ADMISSION)
(THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, PETITIONER-APPELLEE,
v.
JENNIFER H., RESPONDENT-APPELLANT).



Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 10th Judicial Circuit, Peoria County, Illinois No. 01-MH-274 Honorable Donald C. Courson, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice McDADE

The respondent, Jennifer H., was involuntarily admitted to a mental health facility. The court granted the State's petition to involuntarily administer psychotropic medication to her. On appeal, the respondent argues that the court's involuntary treatment order was invalid because it (1) included language about the respondent's "disruptive behavior," which was not a statutory criterion for involuntary treatment at the time the order issued; (2) did not designate the persons authorized to administer the medications; (3) did not specify the medications; and (4) did not specify the range of dosages for those medications. We reverse.

BACKGROUND

On November 13, 2001, the State filed petitions (1) to involuntarily admit the respondent to a mental health facility, and (2) to involuntarily administer psychotropic medications to her. At a hearing on these petitions held on November 14, 2001, the respondent refused to attend. The court granted the State's petition to involuntarily admit her for a period of up to 90 days.

During the portion of the hearing on the petition to involuntarily administer psychotropic medications, Dr. Sreehari Patibandla stated that the respondent was admitted to the Zeller Mental Health Center (Zeller) on November 9, 2001, where Patibandla was a psychiatrist. When the respondent was admitted, she presented symptoms of psychosis with persecutory thoughts. The respondent believed that the facility had the wrong person, that people were "after her," and that people were trying to harm her.

While on her own in the community, the respondent was not bathing or eating properly. She was homeless and was eating out of garbage cans. The respondent was causing disturbances in the community and had been arrested several times.

The doctor stated that the respondent suffered from schizophrenia, a serious mental illness. He said that she had this mental illness at least since 1987. One of the characteristics of the respondent's mental illness was the continued deterioration in her ability to function or an inability to function in the community.

Patibandla testified that he had prescribed medication for the respondent's mental illness. In the petition for involuntary treatment, Patibandla's first choice for medication was 2 to 12 milligrams of Risperdal, with alternatives listed as 2.5 to 20 milligrams of Zyprexa, 5 to 80 milligrams of Haldol, and 1 to 8 milligrams of Ativan. The doctor said that Haldol, Zyprexa, or Risperdal would be administered to the respondent "one at a time." Depending on her response to those medications, Ativan would be given to her "concurrently with the other three."

The doctor stated that these medications were intended to improve the respondent's persecutory thinking, her ability to care for herself, and her ability to make reasoned decisions. He said that the respondent had taken Haldol in the past, which had improved her symptoms. However, at the time of the hearing, the respondent refused to take any medications, believing that she did not need them. Patibandla stated that these medications were antipsychotic agents. He submitted that their benefits outweighed any of their possible side effects.

Patibandla testified that the respondent did not have the capacity to make a reasoned decision concerning whether to take medication. He stated that less restrictive services for the respondent had been explored in the community, but had been ineffective. The doctor believed that without medication, the respondent's condition would not improve. He recommended that the medications be involuntarily administered for up to 90 days.

The judge granted the State's petition. The court's written order was dated November 14, 2001. This document is a form order with blanks to be filled in by the court. The printed language of the form indicates the court found, inter alia, that because of her mental illness, the respondent exhibited "threatening or disruptive behavior." The order states that psychotropic medication was to be administered by the Zeller staff. The order does not specify, however, the types of medication, the dosages, or the persons authorized to administer the medications. It is from this order that the respondent appeals.

The record indicates that the respondent's petition for discharge from Zeller was granted on December 5, 2001.

ANALYS ...


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