If your child dies while under the care or supervision of an ELARC vendor, before you shed your first tear, PLEASE call 1-800-AUTOPSY. Forced or involuntary medicating, medication errors, physical restraints, or just sheer neglect are not uncommon among the developmentally delayed.
We at elarc.net recently interviewed a psychiatric technician. Having worked for nearly twenty years at a major Southern California psychiatric hospital, this person has had extensive contact with developmentally delayed patients. Here's what this person told us: "The vast majority of Regional Center patients we see are in group home placement. They're admitted because their staff has screwed up their medications. All we can do is stabilize their meds and discharge them. But we know that doesn't solve the problem."
A number of ELARC parents report that their children have been inappropriately medicated, force medicated and in some cases given potentially life threatening overdoses of tranquilizers.
We strongly recommend that an independent autopsy be performed in the case of any untimely or unexpected death of an ELARC client. The ELARC, the vendor or the hospital may oppose an independent autopsy. Be sure that you have your conservatorship documents or other proof of kinship available so that you can order an autopsy without their consent.
1-800-AUTOPSY, established in 1988, is an autonomous, mobile-based autopsy service. There moto is "mortuis paresdium et vocem dare necessee est" ("the deceased must be protected and given a voice").
A future article will discuss the issue of medications and the ELARC's responsibility to assure your child's safety. But here's what we can tell you now: Don't count on the ELARC to protect your child from harm while he or she is under a vendor's care.
Your experiences and opinions may differ from ours. We encourage you to post your comments on the elarc.net Message Board.