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In Re Vanessa K.

August 17, 2011


Appeal from the Circuit Court of the 14th Judicial Circuit, Rock Island County, Illinois, Circuit No. 10--MH--13 Honorable Raymond J. Conklin, Judge, Presiding.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Justice O'brien

2011 IL App (3d) 100545

JUSTICE O'BRIEN delivered the judgment of the court, with opinion.

Presiding Justice Carter and Justice Wright concurred in the judgment and opinion.


¶ 1 The trial court granted the State's petition to involuntarily administer psychotropic medication to respondent Vanessa K. She appealed. We affirm.


¶ 3 Respondent Vanessa K., who was 35 years old at the time the petition was filed, suffers from schizophrenia. She voluntarily resided in a facility for persons with mental illness before admitting herself, also voluntarily, to the Robert Young Mental Health Center for inpatient treatment. During her hospitalization at Robert Young, she would intermittently take her medication and other times would refuse to take it. Her treating doctor, Ernest Galbreath, filed a petition for involuntary treatment with psychotropic medication, seeking authority to administer the antipsychotic medication, Risperdal Consta, as a first choice, and offering 20 other medications as treatment alternatives, including Prolixin Decanoate, also an antipsychotic.

¶ 4 At a hearing on the petition to involuntarily medicate, Galbreath testified in support of the petition. Early in Galbreath's testimony, Vanessa's attorney interrupted and stated for the record that Vanessa, "during the [d]octor's testimony has been writing very rapidly on a number of pieces of paper and humming and making other noises and chewing her lips and talking to herself and not appearing to be engaged with the proceedings -." Vanessa then left the proceedings, stating:

"I am leaving. Go ahead, discuss it without me, I will leave this for Supreme Court Judge and half the world is watching, there is my written appeal, the Judge has the paper, thank you and I do want to leave because you all -."

The record includes the "written appeal" Vanessa gave the trial court before leaving the proceeding, which consists of illegible and illogical writing.

¶ 5 Galbreath resumed his testimony and stated that he was a psychiatrist and medical director at Robert Young. He had been Vanessa's treating psychiatrist for over three years and diagnosed her with schizophrenia paranoia, a serious mental illness. The disorder causes a patient to experience auditory and visual hallucinations, and to be psychotic, paranoid, and fearful of what might be done to her. Vanessa had been brought to Robert Young after she attacked a staff member at her residential facility when she was not given a soda. Her treatment at Robert Young included counseling and group sessions, as well as individual sessions with Galbreath. Her treatment plan also included medication.

¶ 6 Galbreath saw Vanessa daily during her inpatient treatment. Due to her mental illness, Vanessa was exhibiting a deterioration in her ability to function. He described that Vanessa spent entire days pacing up and down the hallway where she would previously sit and participate in a therapy session. Her deteriorating behavior also included laughing out loud, talking to herself, not taking her medication, and becoming angry and belligerent toward her caretakers. She was also exhibiting or threatening disruptive behavior. Galbreath stated that Vanessa's behavior was continuing, and "getting worse each day." Because of her illness, the least restrictive treatment alternatives, to allow Vanessa to medicate herself or to voluntarily take her medication, had not been effective in the past and would not be viable options.

¶ 7 Galbreath discussed his treatment plan of prescribing Prolixin Decanoate, the antipsychotic medication with a generic name of flupehnaine decanoate. The drug is administered in an injectable dose of 2.5 and 50 milligrams every two weeks. No testing or procedures were required to monitor the medication, although he would observe Vanessa's progress on the drug. Galbreath pointed to the ability for Vanessa to go two weeks between doses as a reason he prescribed the drug. He also pointed to Vanessa's refusal to take medication on her own, noting that when medicating herself, Vanessa "refuses at random, [is] very paranoid, that's part of her illness." He had administered Prolixin Decanoate to Vanessa previously and found it to be an effective treatment for her. Her prior use of the drug resulted in continued auditory and visual hallucinations, but curbed her physical aggression. When taking the drug previously, Vanessa remained free of hospitalization for her illness for over a year. He rejected less restrictive treatment or medication because of Vanessa's unpredictability and unreliability about maintaining her medication. He stated that Vanessa "will not address the psychotic activity." In his opinion, she lacked the capacity to make a reasoned decision regarding the administration of medication. He believed the drug was necessary as a safety measure to manage Vanessa so she would not attack people, which first occurred after she stopped taking her medication. He also observed that, when not on her medication, Vanessa was "not really rational to take care of herself."

¶ 8 Galbreath acknowledged that when he submitted the petition, his first preference for medication was Risperdal Consta, a newer antipsychotic drug than Prolixin Decanoate, which had not been available in an injectable form when Vanessa previously took the drug. He explained that he substituted the medication because at the time he filed the petition, he did not know that Vanessa had taken previously taken Prolixin. He testified regarding the side effects of Risperdal Consta and compared them to the side effects of Prolixin Decanoate. Galbreath stated that he had advised Vanessa orally about the risks, benefits, and side effects of medication, including Risperdal Consta and Prolixin Decanoate, on a daily basis during her hospitalization at Robert Young, although she would often become disruptive and leave during the explanation. On her arrival at Robert Young, Vanessa was provided a standard form, written explanation concerning the side effects of different medications generally given to his patients. Galbreath acknowledged that he never gave Vanessa written information specifically concerning Prolixin Decanoate.

¶ 9 The trial court questioned Galbreath, ensuring that the doctor wanted the trial court to grant him authority to give Vanessa Prolixin Decanoate, 2.5 to 50 milligrams intravenously, every two weeks, rather than Risperdal Consta, as stated in the petition. As a result of discussion with Vanessa's attorney, the trial court narrowed the petition to substitute Prolixin Decanoate as the primary medication, over Vanessa's objection. The State also objected, noting that the statutory written notice requirements were to be strictly construed and that Vanessa was not given written information about Prolixin Decanoate. According to the State, because Vanessa was provided written information regarding Risperdal Consta, it should remain the primary medication per the petition in order to comply with the statutory requirements. The trial court admonished the parties to decide whether to amend the petition and adjourned for 10 minutes. When the hearing reconvened, Galbreath testified that he gave Vanessa an oral explanation and written information on Prolixin Decanoate. The written information states that the drug treats schizophrenia and includes the following headings: "When This Medicine Should Not Be Used," "How to Use This Medicine," Drugs and Foods to Avoid," "Warnings While Using This Medicine," and "Possible Side Effects." A copy of the written information provided Vanessa was admitted into evidence.

ΒΆ 10 Following the close of testimony, the trial court granted the petition in its entirety. It made the following findings. Vanessa had a serious mental illness, suffered from a deterioration of her ability to function, and had engaged in threatening behavior. The benefits of involuntarily administration of Prolixin Decanoate outweighed its harm. Vanessa was informed orally and in writing about the drug's side effects. Vanessa lacked the capacity to made a reasoned decision about taking medication. Less restrictive alternatives were explored and determined to be inappropriate. The trial court noted Vanessa's in-court behavior as support that a least restrictive environment would not work. No testing was required for the ...

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