DJJ review finds some mistakes in drug practices

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A review of the Department of Juvenile Justice’s practices in giving psychotropic medications to children found some mistakes and errors, but also found little or no evidence for more serious allegations, reports the News Service of Florida.

The report, from the department’s inspector general’s office, was triggered by a series of articles in the Palm Beach Post about the department’s use of the drugs. Investigators said they couldn’t judge accusations that the agency used the drugs to restrain children because the doctor who made that charge to the Post either wouldn’t or couldn’t identify specific cases. The agency also found allegations of over-prescribing the medicines “inconclusive” and said an employee who had falsified records to cover up a mistake was fired after an administrative review. However, the investigation did find that a contractor failed to run a background check on a doctor who shouldn’t have been allowed to work at DJJ facilities; that records of parental consent for using the drugs didn’t exist or weren’t in order; and that employees sometimes made mistakes in administering drugs to the children.

“While each incident is a significant concern, the incidence of medication error appeared to be negligible when compared with the total volume of medication dispensed throughout DJJ,” the report said.

DJJ said it has tightened up its medication procedures and policies.

“I commend the department’s OIG staff for their thorough review and thank the DJJ Office of Health Services for their recommendations,” said DJJ Secretary Wansley Walters in a press release. “I am now more confident than ever that we have the right policies and procedures in place to assure the health and safety of the youth in our care.”

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.