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Client Rights: Guardian Consent for Giving Psychotropic Medicine

There are rules for consent when it comes to psychotropic medicines for people with developmental disabilities who are receiving services. Psychotropic medicines are those that affect behavior, mood, or thoughts. State law outlines these rules.

These rules apply to people receiving services under Wis. Stat. ch. 54 and Wis. Stat. ch. 55 only. They don’t apply to people receiving services under Wis. Stat. ch. 51.

Voluntary administration

A guardian can give consent for a developmentally disabled ward without a court order. That’s if the ward is willing to take the psychotropic medicine, and it’s in their best interests.

To determine this, a guardian must consider the:

  • Invasiveness.
  • Likely benefits.
  • Side effects.

In addition:

  • The guardian must try to talk to the ward about taking the medicine.
  • The ward must not “protest,” meaning: Not respond negatively to the offer of medicine more than once. They can respond negatively to the way they’ll receive the medicine.

If the ward “protests,” the guardian can consent to the medicine only with a court order.

Involuntary administration

Involuntary administration of psychotropic medicine means any of the following:

  • Making them take it in exchange for privileges.
  • Placing it in their food or drink.
  • Restraining them.

A court can order a person receiving services to take this medicine without their consent. That’s if it’s ordered as a protective service and only under Wis. Stat. § 55.14.

A court order must prove that:

  • The person receiving services is unable to refuse.
  • A doctor prescribed the medicine.
  • One of the following is true:
    • Giving the medicine with the consent of the person receiving services isn’t possible or in their best interests. If the petition includes this, it must give reasons.
    • The person receiving services has refused to take the medicine. That means the petition must:
      • Give reasons the person won’t agree to the medicine.
      • Show attempts to get the person’s consent.

The petition needs to show that the medicine should help the person receiving services. In addition, it must show that the person could suffer physical harm, or cause it, without the medicine. Evidence can include:

  • At least two potentially dangerous episodes in the person’s history caused by not taking the medicine. One of the episodes must have happened in the last two years. These must have resulted in a commitment under Wis. Stat. ch. 51.
  • The person meeting the dangerousness criteria under Wis. Stat. § 51.20(1)(a)2.a-e, if they’re not taking medicine.

The petition must include a statement signed by a doctor who knows the person receiving services. The statement should give information about the medicine and data to show it’s needed.

Note: There are more requirements for this petition. This gives providers a general idea of what they’ll need for a court order.

Last revised April 8, 2022