The above is the headline from a December 1, 2011 story from ABC news reporting on a new US Government report released by the federal Government Accountability Office (GAO). The story, and several others covering the same government report, highlight the fact that doctors are giving children in foster care powerful mind-altering drugs at a much higher rate and dosage than other children.
The study was initiated by Senator Thomas Carper, of Delaware who asked for the GAO investigation. He commented, "It's just almost beyond comprehension," the senator stated. "We want the doctors and nurses that are prescribing these medicines to look at their behavior and think and ask this question. Are we doing something wrong here?"
The GAO's report, looked at five states, Florida, Massachusetts, Michigan, Oregon and Texas, over a two year investigation. They looked at almost 100,000 children and found that nearly 20 percent of the children were being prescribed psychiatric drugs.
The report also noted that children in foster care were twice as likely as any other to be prescribed five or more psychiatric drugs at the same time. The report noted that, "No evidence supports the use of five or more psychotropic drugs in adults or children, and only limited evidence supports the use of even two drugs." Senator Carper responded, "There is no evidence for use of five mind-altering medications in an adult, let alone a child."
Texas was the state with the biggest discrepancy between foster children and non-foster children. The study noted that foster children were 53 times more likely to be prescribed five or more psychiatric medications at the same time than non-foster children.
An article in CBS news on this same issue quoted Dr. Mark Olfson, Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at Columbia University, "The GAO report will hopefully spur states to strengthen their oversight and control over the effective management of psychotropic medications prescribed to youth in foster care." The report found that in the five states studied, researchers found almost 4000 foster and non-foster care infants - under the age of one year old, who were on Medicaid, were taking psychotropic drugs. Senator Carper commented, "I was almost despondent to believe that the kids under the age of one, babies under the age of one were receiving this kind of medication."