By: Lance Fogan, M.D.
Lance Forgan, M.D. is a Clinical Professor of Neurology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. “Dings” is his first novel. It is a mother’s dramatic story that teaches epilepsy, now available in eBook, audiobook, and soft cover editions.
Wearing an “Epilepsy ID” bracelet/necklace may have prevented this tragedy on a conscious but uncommunicative person. Almost ten million dollars were awarded to this highly skilled computer worker vacationing with his teen-aged son.
“The man was acting “strangely and seemed to be suffering from some sort of mental psychosis,” the son said on his 911 call to police. Dispatched officers were alerted to a “possible serious mental health disorder needing treatment.” The dispatcher added information given by the son that “the man had a brain condition that can cause him to become dazed and unaware of his surroundings.”
The injured man later reported that he had no recollection of the sheriff deputy’s lit flashlight in the dark vacation cabin and has no memory of picking up the large fork from the counter as he paced. He did not remember waking in a hospital being told he had been shot and will never walk again. A court awarded this large sum for the Sheriff Department’s excessive force, negligence, and other alleged violations. The Sheriff claimed the man was distraught and he was shot after attempting to stab a deputy with a sharp instrument. The victim’s attorney claimed the deputy was a member of a department that was poorly trained in handling calls involving mentally ill people.
After being shot the victim was charged with assault with a deadly weapon and child endangerment. The victim ended up pleading guilty to a less serious charge of brandishing a weapon, a fork, as part of a plea deal.
These situations, i.e., situations of confused behavior and temporarily being out of touch with their surroundings is classical for epilepsy manifested by complex partial seizures, the most prevalent type of epilepsy. Most of these patients describe their transient confusion as an aura which then develops into a full-blown convulsion. But many such seizures do not progress into a convulsion; rather the confused state continues for minutes and sometimes even an hour or more where the person walks around, handles items of daily use and even mumbles speech without recollecting any of these activities when the temporary mental confusion ceases. Most of the public is not familiar with the one percent of the population afflicted by epilepsy and its different forms. Law enforcement, however, needs better training to recognize and understand the transient confusion states which could include epilepsy, illicit drug reactions or psychotic disorders.
I advise all people with epilepsy in all its forms to obtain and wear an epilepsy bracelet or necklace that may help prevent a tragedy and even save your life.