Last week we posted about comedian Rick Shapiro’s difficulties while staying as a patient at a New York Hospitals’ Electroconvulsive Therapy program. Shapiro’s wife, Tracy DeMarzo Shapiro, had posted on Facebook that Rick was being held in that unit, was being harmed by his treatment and that she had been prevented from visiting and contacting her husband.
At the time we published our article, Tracy was concerned that Rick was not getting the kind of care and supervision that his condition required and that she was barred from contacting and visiting Rick. Although she could have pulled Rick from the program immediately, if the hospital signed him out AMA (against medical advice) it would impact his ability to be admitted to future programs in other facilities.
We spoke with Tracy who informed us that Rick has been discharged from the hospital, and he is back at home.
On February 8th, the same day we published our article, Tracy said she submitted a second letter to the hospital’s Patient Advocacy department requesting an appeal on their decision to prevent her visiting Rick. The next day, February 9th, approximately two hours after his morning ECT treatment (which involves electroconvulsive therapy, anesthesia and anxiety meds), Rick was asked if he wanted to leave, and was given what Tracy called a “proper discharge” on the morning of February 9th. She explained that the proper discharge means he was not declared as leaving against medical advice- a designation that could have interfered with his ability to be accepted to other medical programs.
It’s not a completely happy result. Tracy isn’t convinced that it was Rick’s choice or that his rights were respected, even in the discharge decision. “The very obvious coincidence to Rick’s early release (although they will say it was his choice) has me now seeing Patients Rights counsel to determine the extent to which Rick’s multiple rights (and mine as well) were violated.” She is planning to pursue legal options, explaining that the ECT program is supposed to be a 6 to 8 week program, with treatments three times a week. “I was repeatedly told that no changes would be seen for minimum 6 treatments; Rick was there for one week. And yet, the Doctors were “impressed” at how well Rick responded to one week’s treatment. This is after one Doctor referred to my tenacity to see Rick ‘quite the side show.’”
The end result is mixed for the Shapiros, with Tracy describing Rick’s early discharge as both relieving and frightening. “He is happy to be home, he is sleeping and he is safe,” she said, “but the changes these Doctors spoke of are non-existent and I fear were halted by the stressful environment. My hope now is to find a better, more stable and respectful ECT program to enter Rick into.”
She has not yet received any reply to her letter.