Skip to main content

Electro-Convulsive Therapy

Volume 928: debated on Thursday 17 March 1977

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services how many deaths occur each year in the United Kingdom as a result of electro-convulsive therapy treatment; what safeguards are normally applied; and what warning of the risks involved is given to patients.

Statistics are not kept on a national basis of deaths associated with individual forms of treatment such as ECT. However, recent studies in the United States of America and this country have indicated that ECT is associated with mortality probably of the order of 3 to 9 per 100,000 treatments. The risks arise mainly from the anaesthetic and muscle relaxant. The Royal College of Psychiatrists is expected shortly to issue a document on the use of ECT, with recommended standards and procedures for the administration of ECT, as well as a section on consent to treatment. The Royal College of Psychiatrists recommends among other things that an anaesthetist should be present as well as the psychiatrist, to give the anaesthetic; and that the responsible psychiatrist should ensure that the patient is given a prior explanation of the benefits and dangers of ECT.