Former president Chen Shui-bian (陳水扁) has requested that prison authorities explain why he was given psychiatric medication when he had not asked to see a psychiatrist, Chen’s office secretary Chiang Chih-ming (江志銘) yesterday.
Chen Chih-chung (陳致中), Chen Shui-bian’s son, said the medical team at the government-run Taoyuan General Hospital discovered a drug normally used to treat psychiatric conditions in the former president’s list of medications.
Chen Chih-chung, as well as Chiang and members of pro-localization groups, demanded that Taipei Prison explain why the medication was given to the former president, who is serving a 17-and-a-half-year prison sentence for corruption.
Chen Shui-bian underwent cardiac catheterization on Thursday to treat acute coronary syndrome. Doctors subsequently said the syndrome could be cured by medication rather than inserting stents.
To draw a more complete picture of the former president’s medical history, Taoyuan General Hospital asked Chen Shui-bian to bring with him a list of past medications received, among which was the psychiatric medication the team caring for Chen Shui-bian found.
Chen Chih-chung questioned the motives behind the decision by doctors at Taipei Prison to prescribe his father such medication, adding that his father did not know about the drugs, nor had he ever asked to see a psychiatrist.
“What is this psychiatric medication used for and why was it given to my father?” Chen Chih-chung asked.
Former vice president Annette Lu (呂秀蓮) said the drug allegedly given to the former president was Ativan, which is usually used to treat anxiety.
Chen Chih-chung said his father had trouble breathing last night and was given a breathing mask, adding that doctors were trying to determine whether the symptoms were related to cardiopulmonary problems.
Pro-independence groups added their voices to the call for an explanation.
Taiwan Hakka Society chairman Chang Yeh-sen (張葉森) said doctors who prescribe medicine are obligated to tell patients what is being prescribed, adding the prison should provide an explanation.
If the prison doctors prescribed psychiatric medication to the former president without telling him, then it would go against the principles of modern healthcare, Chang said.
“Chen Shui-bian has always been strong-willed and very energetic, but recently he’s not looking so well and he’s slightly lethargic,” Chang said, as he questioned whether Chen Shui-bian’s deteriorating health and stress problems are products of his prolonged confinement.
The Chinese-language United Daily News reported on Wednesday that Chen Chih-chung had attributed his father’s acute coronary syndrome to lack of exercise and long-time confinement in cramped quarters.
Minister of Justice Tseng Yung-fu (曾勇夫) said Chen Shui-bian was not denied his daily 30-minute exercise and that the former president was barred from working in factories with his fellow inmates because of security reasons as well as respect for a former head of state.
However, Chen Chih-chung said the prison’s actions were “infringing on my father’s human rights; it’s inhumane and unjust.”
Responding to Chen Chih-chung’s claims, Taipei Prison warden Fang Tzu-chieh (方子傑) said the prison doctors are on secondment from Taoyuan General Hospital, adding: “When Chen Shui-bian catches a cold, the medication prescribed comes from the hospital.”