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New Amsterdam, what happened???  

Dr. Max Goodwin in New Amsterdam
Dr. Max Goodwin in New Amsterdam

I was enjoying watching episode two and then I was SO appalled by what happened in the show, I felt compelled to write this blog post to address what was portrayed so drastically wrong in this episode of New Amsterdam.

What was wrong you ask?

in the episode, a character named Leo Chen is a 5th grade student who has been prescribed psychotropic medication.   Dr. Iggy Frome, inspired by the main character, Dr. Max Goodwin, to do something different with his psychological approach to Leo decides to remove all the medications Leo has been prescribed. The next scene depicts Dr. Frome and Dr. Anil Kapor, the show’s head of neurology telling Leo’s mom that the cocktail of drugs he had been taking were harming his health. The mom explains she was only giving him the drugs prescribed by the school psychiatrist. What?

So let me list what was SO very wrong with this episode.

1. A psychiatrist can prescribe drugs; however, schools do not tend to hire psychiatrists because they cannot afford them! Plus there is no point since the main difference between the two is that they can prescribe drugs. Why would a school pay extra money for a psychiatrist when they will not be prescribing drugs anyways?

2. Schools CANNOT REQUIRE OR FORCE a child to take ANY medication!  Dr. Frome and Dr. Villareal, “psychiatrist for all the public schools in Queens,” begin a conversation which includes the following:

Dr. Frome: “How can you force a child to take medication?”

Dr. Villareal: Easy. It’s the law!”

Guidance from the US Department of Education’s Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services (OSEP) to Senator Inhofe, dated 2007, CLEARLY states, “Educational services, however, cannot be conditioned upon a parent’s decision to medicate his or her child.

3. Dr. Goodwin says the school CAN force the parent to give their child medication if it is in their Individual Education Plan (IEP) and the parent signs it!  That is NOT the purpose of an IEP.  An IEP is a legal and binding document of the services a child will receive as part of their plan for special education to comply with the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) so the child may gain FAPE in the educational environment. A list of medications a child might be taking, given by the parents, may be in the IEP but the school has ZERO control on, IF a parents gives the child the medication, and the school NEVER prescribes the medication!

Why this is so scary!

As an educational advocate, I struggle every day to answer the questions posed to me by my IEP group on Facebook (IEP Assistance and Special Needs Parenting Advice)  by parents who are lost, confused, and stuck in the special education process.  It is difficult to combat some of the misconceptions displayed on TV. Parents often will see a TV show and ask if that is really the way it is. It is frustrating. Sometimes it is, and sometimes, it isn’t. The most frustrating part is that it is all avoidable. When a script is written and edited, research goes into the writing process. In this case, the writers obviously did not pay enough attention to details and assumed or worse, talked to someone with no authority to speak. Because of that lack of attention to detail, millions of potential families may be misled into thinking 1. a school system normally DOES NOT have a psychiatrist with the ability to prescribe psychotropic drugs, 2. schools CANNOT make medication a prerequisite for coming to school, and 3. a school CANNOT force a child to take medication if it is in his IEP.

In the future, I hope the writers spend a few minutes researching law before finalizing a script. It will help make my job as an advocate much easier.

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