The Role of Nurses in ECT Delivery to Minors
In 1947, the province of ECT was expanded to include a new population: children and adolescents. Since then the use of ECT among this population has increased, as a "treatment of choice" for some psychiatrists. Accurate prevalence rates are not known as a result of problems with psychiatrist-client confidentiality and cross-national differences in methods of recording, reporting and detection of its use. It has been estimated, however, that between 500 and 3,500 children/adolescents are given ECT each year in the United States ( Thompson & Blaine, 1987). Over sixty minors in the United Kingdom were identified in a recent Royal College of Psychiatrists national survey as having been given ECT. The available data should be questioned, due to a bias in reporting positive research findings. An American Psychiatric Association ( APA) task force statement also reported a generally positive outlook toward ECT ( APA, 1990).
In all instances of ECT administration to minors, nurses have been actively involved. Usual procedures require nurses to be present before, during and after the administration of ECT. Contemporary administration of ECT requires an anesthetist to be present, although there are exceptions ( Ben-Tovim & BenTovim , 1982; Makanjuola & Oyerogba, 1987). ECT frequently has been described as a "collaborative health care team enterprise," however, it is often given on behalf of absentee psychiatrists. An unpublished Royal College of Psychiatrists survey in the United Kingdom reported that ECT was always
This chapter is reproduced with permission from Nursing Ethics 2( 4) ( 1995), 333-346.