On September 11, 2017, DK Law Group LLP filed a class action in federal court against the manufacturers of Electroconvulsive Therapy devices (ECT) on behalf of every person who has been injured by electroconvulsive therapy in California since May of 1982. The lawsuit is based on traditional state-law negligence principles, and the manufacturers’ failure to comply with their obligations to the FDA.
ECT has been around for nearly eighty years, since about 1938. Since then, the practice has become widespread, even though the psychiatric community has never conclusively established any particular mechanism of action through which ECT treats any type of mental illness.
Medical Device Regulation
Medical devices in the United States are strictly regulated by the FDA under the
- Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act (FDCA),
- Medical Device Amendments of 1976 (MDA),
- and Safe Medical Devices Act of 1990 (SMDA).
The Medical Device Amendments determined that medical devices would be classified into three categories based on their safety and effectiveness.
Devices that present significant risks are classified into Class III, and these devices typically must satisfy a strict “premarket approval” process, which requires that manufacturers provide a strong showing of safety and effectiveness before such devices can be placed on the market. ECT Devices are classified as Class III.
ECT Devices “Grandfathered in”
When the Medical Device Amendments were passed in 1976, there were many existing devices, including ECT, which were allowed on the market without satisfying the premarket approval standard. Instead, they were “grandfathered in” as devices marketed before the MDA, or devices substantially similar to such pre-amendment devices.
Failure to Report
Despite being granted access to the market, manufacturers of devices that have been “grandfathered in” still must furnish certain information to the FDA. For example, under the MDA and SMDA, such manufacturers must report to the FDA all information reasonably known when their devices may have contributed to a death or serious injury. The “reasonably known” standard is broad, and requires a manufacturer to seek out information pertaining to adverse events resulting from use of their devices, instead of passively waiting for the information to reach them.
The DK Law Group’s lawsuit alleges that the manufacturers of ECT devices failed to meet these requirements, and as a result, placed a dangerous product on the market without an adequate warning.
ECT Victims Sought
If you or someone you know has been been injured by electroconvulsive therapy in California, contact DK Law at (805) 498-1212 or by email at ECT@dk4law.com.
In addition, all ECT survivors (whether injured in California or not) are encouraged to fill out the ECT Justice questionnaire. ECT Justice will attempt to notify you as we learn of opportunities to participate in legal actions in other states and countries.
Mary Kardos says
Thank you for your stories. I feel less alone.
Mary Maddock says
This is a copy of my records of when I received electroshock in the 70s. The first one was given 3 days after childbirth. I receive 5 more in the 80’s always without informed consent.
My mother received over 40 ECT treatments, when I would ask the social worker why they kept giving them to her and let her know my concern, I was told she would let the doctor know. My mother passed away on 2.6 just hours after receiving yet another treatment. Currently waiting for the autopsy results, I know in my heart ECT killed her, she was otherwise healthy. We are devastated.
Randall Stith says
I would like to see if you will be in our documentary about ECT? It will be an expose on the topic and cover such things as death by ECT.
If you would be interested in participating in that, please email me back at Lrstith @gmailcom
Thank you for your response.
I had more than 60 treatments or so I think, can’t remember, from about 2007 to 2016, I think … memory progressively became nonexistent to the point where I could not do my job. I was a journalist and had to remember details of what people were saying despite recordings. I couldn’t even remember how to use the computer programs to do my job. My job performance was so bad I was bounced from a different newspaper several times before being fired. Now I’m on permanent Social Security Disability. And I’m only 39 years old. I had to reread this several times to make sure I wrote the right thing. There has to be brain damage. And not once did the doctors ever do any test to check if my brain was healthy to begin with. Yes it helped with mania for short periods but it became the go to drug of choice. And the doctors want to do more! Of which I respond HELL NO!!! Thanks for reading my rant.
LORETTA A WILSON says
Short of using the word “Castrated” how can one describe the aftershock of Electroshock. During which time Sixty (60) shock induced grand mal seizures experienced and the assurance that “memory loss is temporary”; a prognosis of “poor”; a GAF score of 30-35. All shocks experienced in Michigan, most experienced at Sparrow Health Systems, St. Lawrence in Lansing.
It’s high time the Manufacturers of the shock device get the shock of their life!
Yes, castrated or electrically lobotomized. ECT is the nuclear bomb that is a rape of the mind and soul.
It is hard to comprehend the evil and ignorance of “doctors” brain damaging the ill, distressed, and vulnerable for 80 years, with no end in sight.
You speak powerfully and eloquently. Your testimony before the FDA and that of other victims (in 2011) should have been enough to make the FDA call for a ban on this human rights violation.
Mary Power says
All I can say is: me too! Reduced to a virtual vegetable and permanently damaged emotionally and intellectually, my career ambitions ruined, my physical health problems rubbished by other medical consultants, abandoned by the legal profession, politicians and media – yeah. ECT is the ultimate weapon. It was done to me in a top Irish hospital during the 1970’s – because i made allegations of date-rape against a number of senior college students at the uni where I was a naive first year. Every possible attempt has been made to silence me. Eventually I will end up dead, like so many others, as if I never existed… That is the only thing that keeps me from ending it all this minute – I’ll be dead long enough. God! Forgive me. ,”( Mary
There is a group of individuals looking to launch a Twitter campaign #ECTbraindamagedmetoo.
I am so sorry for your experience. And, decades later, victims keep piling up.
Tessia Thomas says
I’ve had ECT over 45 times my memory has gotten worse and worse after the doctor said it will come back I can’t concentrate and more depressed than I was I just feel like why am I here anymore.
Tessia, that is beyond awful. There is a facebook group called “Surviving Electroshock” that might provide you with support and understanding. There are over 200 members who have been damaged by shock. Some have had 2 or 3, other over 100.
Try to stay strong. There is hope for recovery.
Caroline Barna says
My mother went through forced electroshock treatments in the early 1970’s . She has never been the same. Refuses to see any doctor and when she has had to go, she gets severe anxiety. Would love to see some justice for her. When they got done with her, she couldn’t even tie her shoes.
Barry Holland says
After 8 sessions of ECT over the years I went from the possibility if having a high flying career as a geologist or genetic engineer to what amounts to being an unknown second rate painter on benefits .ECT has ruined my life and although I live in the UK I hope a similar legal trend comes to this country against it
I have had ect 2017-2017.. loss a lot of memory. Hard to focus..
David L. Harrison says
I experienced a significant loss of cognitive ability and speech through many sessions of ECT. at Sparrow Hospital during 2017.
Lynne Stewart says
I had shock treatments in 1966 at a private hospital in Los Angeles. It was traumatic to me. I still have flashbacks and can still feel and hear the buzzing in my head and ears. I sometimes get, literally, paralyzed from fear at these moments. Thank you for your efforts and valuable time spent. Glad to hear this happening in my lifetime.
Mark capobianco says
My father was the psychiatrist who convinced me family I needed Ect . I went through 30 plus treatments and went from being a 3.5 gPa biology major to a janitor . I aM a shadow of the person I used to be and because my father has convinced my family I am crazy I have lost their emotional support . They feel my stuggles with life are due to some failure on my end . I am desperate to find others like me who can at least make me feel like I am not crazy and a failure .
Mark, you can find support and validation in the “Brain Damaging Therapeutics- Survivors of Electroshock” on facebook. It is a group you apply to join. There are 200 people, most with stories like yours.
Dorothy W Dundas says
I am thrilled by this lawsuit. I was given ECT combined with insulin in 1961 when I was 19 in Boston. No anesthesia. My roommate died from the “treatment.”
Even though I fall well outside this class action lawsuit I would like very much to be informed as it progresses.
Deborah Schwartzkopff says
There will be a page created for updates as they occur with regards to suit.
Ted Chabasinski says
Although I may not be within the right timeframe, as I was given forced electroshock in 1944 at the age of six, I can say that experience has marked me for life and left me disabled in many ways. My whole childhood was ruined, and I have no idea what kind of life I would have had if I had not been abused in this way.