Shock for Shock Cure Doctors -Sunday Times 15.9.74 (Jan 2003)
Many of you may not have seen this article, now almost 20 years old. I hope you like it ! If you have an ECT story I'd love to have a copy please.JH.
'Mental patients in a hospital in North West England were treated for two years with ECT from a machine that did not work - and nobody noticed. The patients seemed to benefit as much from being put to sleep as those who actaully received the treatment itself.
A new machine arrived at the hospital to replace the old one , says Dr Jones ( a pseudonym for the anaesthetist involved) and it had dials and lights and switches for different wave forms and although the patient did not twitch, the red light went on and the needle moved.
'Isn't it working?' asked Dr Jones.
'Yes, it is,' replied the nurse,'this sort doesn't give any reaction - it's in the instructions!'
Dr Jones said ' We used the apparatus for two years with no complaints from the patients and although I did not actually see any consultants, apparently they were satisfied with my work.'
Then a new charge nurse came who had experience of the new machine from his previous hospital and noticed it was not working. The patients had been having only a shot of anaesthetic for two years.
Dr Jones said ' I am certain that there should be proper clinical trials to show that this treatment really works. Patients are still very frightened of it and we should be sure it is beneficial before we actually use it.' JH