Is It Ethically Correct to Hide Medication in Food and Drinks of Patients with Dementia?

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It is known that in some residential homes the use of covert drugs has become common practice. In 2001 the regulatory body, the United Kingdom Central Council for Nursing, Midwifery, said drugs could be given covertly if it was in the patient's best interests. This statement has created a lot of debate among some human right defenders as they might enter in direct conflict to the Code of Conduct of Nursing and Midwifery where clearly states nurses must “Ensure to gain consent before beginning any treatment or care.” (Code of Practice, Mental Health Act 1983) This has generated some ethical issues around this topic. The term ‘covert medication’ means to give medication secretly hidden in food or beverages, without consent from patients.…show more content…
He began raising questions after his mother was sedated without her consent at a nursing home in the city, “It’s very, very convenient for staff at care homes to conceal drugs in the food and drink of residents, not for therapeutic problems but to make the residents easier to manage.” (, 13-02-2009) Mr Watson is known for campaigning about “covert medication” in care homes. In residential settings, tranquillising medication might be seen as a cheap means of managing inadequate staffing levels as well as to ensure a quiet shift, but for those who are in favour of this approach argue that it is an essential and least restrictive means of managing unpredictable, violent outbursts against staff and fellow patients. Some might question this practice, who has the right to force someone to take a drug without her or his knowledge?, Do we know whether a patient is refusing treatment or is mentally unable to make that decision for themselves? And could the guidelines encourage busy or less scrupulous nurses to take the quick way out? Treatment administered in food or drink should never be given to patients who are clearly refusing to accept treatment and have capacity to consent according to Mental Health Act 1983 whereas treatment for those who lack capacity may be prescribed in their best interests under the common law doctrine of necessity, and thus necessary to save life or

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