Riverview doctors defend controversial treatment

The doctors who perform electric shock therapy on elderly patients at Riverview hospital are defending the practice.

They feel they're under attack after a fellow doctor at the hospital wrote a letter to the Health Minister, publicly questioning a dramatic increase in the use of electro-convulsive shock as a treatment for severe depression.

Shock treatments on elderly patients at Riverview have doubled in the past four years.

The group of 18 doctors has sent its own letter to Health Minister Corky Evans, defending the treatments.

Dr. Kevin Berman who speaks for the doctors says depression is very common illness among the elderly. "I think the patients we get are more frail medically and psychiatrically," he says. "Often, by the time they arrive here, they have failed a number of different medicines for depression."

Health Minister Corky Evans has now ordered an independent review.