Psych Crime Reporter

February 4, 2011

Psychiatrist Charles D. Morgan referred patient for electroshock then engaged in sexual contact afterward; state takes license

On January 19, 2011, the Wisconsin Medical Examining Board accepted the surrender of psychiatrist Charles D. Morgan’s license to practice medicine for unprofessional conduct.

According the Board’s Order, Morgan provided treatment to a female patient for approximately two years, ending in late June 2008.  Approximately one week earlier, Morgan admitted the patient to the behavioral health unit of Mercy Medical Center in Oshkosh, Wisconsin for electroconvulsive therapy (“electroshock”) and while she was hospitalized, Morgan kissed her romantically.

Following her discharge a week later, Morgan told the patient he wanted to talk with her at his office, which was also in the Medical Center.  While she was in his office, he engaged in sexual contact with her “which resulted in his orgasm,” according to the Order.

Morgan left a message on the patient’s cell phone the next day that what had occurred in his office needed to stay confidential or he could lose his license.

The patient reported the incident to her counselor and Oshkosh Police.

While she was in his office, he engaged in sexual contact with her “which resulted in his orgasm,” according to the Order.

In his interview with police, Morgan stated that the patient was “the aggressor and a predator.  She came on to him and wanted him to have sexual contact with her and he finally gave in.”  The police investigation resulted in charges of Sexual Exploitation by a Therapist, of which Morgan was convicted in Winnebago County Circuit Court on December 18, 2008.  He was sentenced March 19, 2009 to six years probation and nine months jail time.

Other terms of his sentence included prohibition against practicing psychology or psychiatry or counseling people in vulnerable positions or employment that would permit him to have authority over vulnerable people.  He must also register as a sex offender.

(His registration can be confirmed by gong to the National Sex Offender Registry website and entering “Morgan” and then hit “search” and it will pull  up several Morgans, of which he is one.)

Source: Final Decision and Order LS 0808206 MED, in the Matter of the Disciplinary Proceedings Against Charles D. Morgan, M.D., Division of Enforcement Case # 08 MED 207, State of Wisconsin Medical Examining Board.

Story used with permission of Citizens Commission on Human Rights International.

October 5, 2010

Psychiatrist Gurmeet Multani surrenders license on charge of sex with patients

A Colton psychiatrist surrendered his license to practice medicine on Friday after being accused of having sex with patients and wrongfully prescribing drugs to patients with histories of drug abuse.

Gurmeet Singh Multani, who has been a licensed doctor since 1990, turned over his license to the state medical board.

Medical board officials said Multani had sex with a patient he was treating for depression and sexual trauma. He provided counseling to the woman between July 2006 and March 2007.

The patient said Multani “paid her various amounts of money for sex, including one occasion in which he paid her $2,000 for sex,” according to an accusation by the medical board.

Multani also gave her vehicles during their relationship.

Erin Muellenberg, Multani’s attorney, said he has denied all of the allegations, but decided to turn over his license and retire to avoid a stressful, expensive legal battle.

“The decision was simply one of convenience and to avoid stress by not going through what is involved in a trial of this matter,” Muellenberg said.

“It’s clearly been a strain on him. That was part of what he looked at and part of what his family looked at in making the decision that it was not worth the fight.”

Multani is a community servant who treated the homeless mentally ill who couldn’t pay for care, Muellenberg said.

“He was very saddened by (the allegations) and is still looking forward to serving his community in other ways,” she said.

He had sex with another woman between February 2007 and February 2008 while providing her with marital counseling, the medical board report said.

Investigators said the patient and Multani “met at various places to have sexual intercourse. The places included a hotel in Ontario and a house owned by (Multani) in Redlands.”

The woman’s husband was also receiving counseling from Multani for marital difficulties, but he treated him separately.

Medical board investigators discovered Multani prescribed narcotics to a woman with a 10-year history of addiction to drugs such as Vicodin and codeine.

During an appointment, the patient told investigators Multani touched her legs and other parts of her body “for his own sexual gratification,” the report said.

Multani prescribed drugs to another patient with a history of drug addiction.

Medical board officials said that patient died in December 2009 due to liver failure from acetaminophen toxicity.

But Muellenberg said Multani had surveillance cameras installed in every room where he visited with patients and no video evidence exists proving he engaged in inappropriate activity in his office.

“There was never an issue that anything could have happened,” Muellenberg said. “It’s just unfortunate that the medical board decided to take this position and the claimants decided to go after him.”

The medical board charged Multani with numerous California Business and Professions code violations including sexual abuse, failure to maintain adequate records and gross negligence. It’s unknown if Multani will be charged criminally.

Source: Melissa Pinion-Whitt and Michael J. Sorba. “Colton psychiatrist accused of having sex with patients,” Redlands Daily Facts, October 4, 2010.


April 21, 2010

Psychiatrist Steven L. Kaplan ousted by Florida Medicaid, relative to death of 7-year-old

State healthcare regulators have booted from the state Medicaid program a Miami psychiatrist who had prescribed a cocktail of potent mental health drugs to an autistic, 12-year-old boy who later died of complications from over-medication.

The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration, which oversees the state Medicaid program for the needy and disabled, has notified Dr. Steven L. Kaplan that he has been terminated from the insurance program effective May 17, said Tiffany Vause, an agency spokeswoman in Tallahassee.

Vause said Kaplan, like all Medicaid providers, had signed a “voluntary contract” with the state. “The agency elected to terminate the agreement as it was believed to be in the interest of the program to do so.”

“We will be working to ensure a smooth transition of care for his patients,” Vause added.

Kaplan declined to speak with a Miami Herald reporter Tuesday.

Kaplan, who treats about 800 patients — most of them disabled or impoverished children — was the subject of a report in The Herald on Monday. The story said administrators at three state agencies had expressed concerns about Kaplan’s prescribing of psychiatric drugs to disabled children before and after the May 23, 2007, death of 12-year-old Denis Maltez.

Denis, who weighed 70 pounds, had been on three different mental health drugs, two of them in the maximum dose, at the time he died, a consultant for the state Agency for Persons with Disabilities wrote.

“In combination, all three of these agents have additive effects as a central nervous system depressant,” the consultant, psychiatrist Jorge J. Villalba, wrote. The drugs, he added, “may have been contributing factors in the client’s death.”

The Miami-Dade Medical Examiner’s Office attributed the boy’s death to Serotonin Syndrome, also called Serotonin Toxicity, which can occur when an excess of medications causes the body to produce too much serotonin, a chemical that helps brain and nerve cells to function.

Over the past few years the University of South Florida, acting on behalf of the state healthcare agency, had sent Kaplan several letters suggesting he reconsider his prescribing practices.  “He said he had been practicing long enough to know how to treat his patients and was tired of being told what to do,” a pharmacist working for USF wrote following a visit to Kaplan’s office in May 2009.

Most affected by Kaplan’s termination will be clients of Florida’s Agency for Persons with Disabilities, many of whom have been treated by him.

Melanie Etters, an APD Tallahassee spokeswoman, said the healthcare agency will be notifying Kaplan’s patients that he will no longer be able to receive Medicaid payments.

“APD will also let [disability caseworkers], residential providers, and Family Care Council members know about Dr. Kaplan’s termination as a Medicaid provider. We will also let them know of other psychiatrists serving the Miami area,” Etters wrote in an e-mail to The Herald.

“APD is supportive of this reasonable and responsible action by our sister agency to protect the health and safety of the people we serve,” Etters added.

Martha Quesada, Denis’ mother, declined to speak with a Herald reporter Tuesday. Quesada’s lawsuit against the psychiatrist still is pending in Miami-Dade circuit court.

“Unfortunately, Florida has no procedure to protect the patients of physicians who write behavioral health care prescriptions that exceed thresholds and who blatantly ignore the ‘red flag’ letters from the University of South Florida Medicaid Drug Therapy Program,” said Quesada’s attorney, Howard Talendfeld.

“Nor does the state tell the parents or guardians of mentally disabled persons or foster children that these drugs prescriptions may be dangerous or monitor whether or not the physicians obtained informed consent from them.”

Source: Carol Marbin Miller, “Medicaid ousts Miami psychiatrist who gave potent drugs to boy who later died from overmedication,” Miami Herald, April 21, 2010

March 22, 2010

Kansas psychiatrist Ethan Bickelhaupt pleads guilty to controlled substance charges

On February 22, 2010, Kansas psychiatrist Ethan Bickelhaupt pleaded guilty to one count of unlawfully distributing controlled substances and one count of unlawfully obtaining controlled substances.

Prosecutors say he issued prescriptions in 2006 to people who were not his patients.  Those people would then return the drugs to Bickelhaupt for his personal use.

On December 14, 2007 the Kansas State Board of Healing Arts indefinitely suspended  Bickelhaupt’s license.  Kansas State Board documents state, “The Board has received reports that (Bickelhaupt) issued prescriptions for Adderall and Klonopin in the names of two high school students and then paid the students cash to pick up the prescriptions from at least two different pharmacies.  The students then gave (him) the prescriptions” and “There is reasonable suspicion that (Bickelhaupt) has the inability to practice the healing arts with reasonable skill and safety to patients…”

He is scheduled to be sentenced on May 21st.

Source: “Former psychiatrist pleads guilty in drug case,” Wichita Eagle, February 22, 2010 and Final Order In the Matter of Ethan Bickelhaupt, M.D., Kansas License No. 04-18225, Docket No. 08-HA00040, Board of Healing Arts of the State of Kansas, filed December 14, 2007.

February 25, 2010

Director of state psychiatric hospital Director of state hospital arrested, charged with repeatedly raping foster child

From a press release issued by the Long Beach Police Department February 24, 2010:

In September 2009, Long Beach Detectives from the Sex Crimes Detail began investigating a child molestation case that occurred in the City of Long Beach from 1975 – 2006 involving 5 victims known to the suspect.  The investigation led investigators to Claude Edward Foulk a 63-year-old Napa resident.

On Wednesday, February 24, 2010 Sex Crimes Detectives arrested Foulk in Napa California on a $3.5 million dollar warrant issued by The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office for 35 counts of Lewd and Lascivious Acts with a Child.

The investigation is on going and detectives believe there could be additional victims or witnesses.  Anyone with any information is asked to contact the Sex Crimes Detail at (562) 570-7368.

From a press release issued by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office February 24, 2010:

The executive director of the Napa State Hospital was arrested today on a felony complaint for arrest warrant, charging him with sexually molesting a foster child for more than a decade when they lived in Long Beach.

Claude Edward Foulk, 62 (dob 12-19-47), was arrested at the Napa facility this morning by Long Beach police, said Deputy District Attorney Lesley Klein, deputy in charge of the Long Beach VIP program. He was charged Tuesday in case NA084803 with 35 felony counts, including 22 counts of forcible oral copulation, 11 counts of sodomy by use of force, and two counts of forcible lewd act on a child. Prosecutors are asking bail be set at $3.5 million.

Foulk, who was appointed to the position in March of 2007, allegedly began sexually molesting the 10-year-old boy in the fall of 1992, shortly after Foulk took him in as a foster child. The sexual molestation allegedly continued through 2003, after he and the youth moved to Walnut.

Klein said there are numerous other alleged victims who fall outside the statute of limitations. Police were alerted to the allegations of sexual assault last year after one alleged victim, now in his 40s, discovered Foulk was in charge of a hospital in Northern California. The hospital houses inmates who are sexual offenders.

If convicted on all counts, Foulk faces more than 280 years in prison.

Arraignment information will be released later.

From the Los Angeles Times, February 24, 2010:

The executive director of Napa State Hospital, a Northern California mental institution whose patients include convicted child molesters, was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of sexually molesting a foster child in his care for more than a decade.

Claude Edward Foulk, 62  had been charged Tuesday with 35 felony counts, including 22 counts of forcible oral copulation, 11 counts of sodomy by use of force and two counts of forcible lewd act on a child, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.

Prosecutors asked that bail be set at $3.5 million.

If convicted on all counts, he faces a maximum sentence of 280 years in state prison.

An appointee of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Foulk allegedly began molesting the then-10-year-old boy in the fall of 1992, shortly after taking him in as a foster child. They lived in Long Beach at the time, authorities said.

The molestation allegedly continued through 2003, after Foulk and the youth moved to Walnut.

Prosecutors said there are “numerous” additional victims “who fall outside the statute of limitations.” According to a statement from the Orange County district attorney’s office, they cannot pursue cases of molestation that occurred before 1988 because of a U.S. Supreme Court decision.

Police were alerted to the allegations of sexual assault last year after one alleged victim, now in his 40s, discovered that Foulk was in charge of a hospital in Northern California.

Neither Foulk nor his attorney could be reached for comment.

State officials released a statement Wednesday afternoon saying Foulk had been removed from his job.

February 19, 2010

Lawsuit: psychiatrist Harvey Rosenberg admitted to dating patient’s ex-wife

On January 29, 2010, Steven B. Kay filed a lawsuit in Oakland County (Michigan) Circuit Court against his former psychiatrist Harvey J. Rosenberg, alleging that Rosenberg betrayed Kay by dating his ex-wife.

Kay’s lawsuit alleges that Laurie Kay, his wife of 13 years, told him in Spring 2001 that she wanted a divorce.   Mr. Kay then became depressed with suicidal thoughts.  As his mental-emotional condition further deteriorated, he was referred to Rosenberg for treatment.

Rosenberg counseling Kay for several weeks and then suggested seeing Kay and his wife together.  He also counseled Laurie Kay individually and even counseled the couple’s son.

Despite counseling, Laurie Kay followed through with the divorce.

Mr. Kay made a suicide attempt in November 2001.   He continued counseling with Rosenberg, who advised him to accept the divorce and to agree to a divorce settlement contrary to the recommendations of Kay’s attorney.  “Upon information and belief,” states the suit, “Rosenberg referred Laurie to the attorney who represented her in her divorce…[which] was finalized in January 2006.”  Mr. Kay continued to counsel with Rosenberg.

Following the divorce, Kay grew more depressed and, despite meeting and dating other women, he “obsessed over Laurie hoping that she would come back to him.”  He expressed these feelings to Rosenberg, along with feelings that he would never again be happy.  He additionally communicated to Rosenberg “his hurt, betrayal and anger upon learning about Laurie’s infidelity during their marriage.”

Kay spent more than $25,000 on therapy with Rosenberg.

In March 2009, Laurie contacted Mr. Kay to advise him that she and Rosenberg were dating.

Kay confronted the psychiatrist over phone.  Rosenberg admitted that it was true.

Rosenberg agreed to a face-to-face meeting a week later in which he admitted that his actions were wrong.  Rosenberg further attempted to justify his ethical breach and unprofessionalism by telling Kay that he “was in a loveless marriage; that his time was limited due to lung cancer; and that he wanted to experience happiness.”

View lawsuit:

http://www.courthousenews.com/2010/02/10/DocandEx.pdf.

January 7, 2010

State board charges psychiatrist Gurmeet Multani with sexual abuse of patient

On December 10, 2009, the Medical Board of California issued an Accusation against psychiatrist Gurmeet Singh Multani, alleging sexual abuse, misconduct or relations, unprofessional conduct, repeated negligent acts, failure to maintain adequate and accurate records, gross negligence.

The Board’s document states that Multani treated patient “LE” from July 2006 to March 2007 and also treated her son and daughter. LE went to Multani for help with depression and sexual trauma. She disclosed to Multani during the course of her treatment that she had engaged in prostitution.

Multani subsequently asked LE out to dinner and she agreed. Following dinner and drinks, Multani took her to his office, where he engaged the patient in sexual intercourse. In the document, LE reported that Multani engaged her in intercourse many other times at his office, that he paid her various amounts of money for sex, including one occasion in which paid her $2,000 and that Multani had sex with LE on numerous occasions at LE’s apartment as well.

With another patient, “JR,” Multani is alleged to have prescribed a narcotic appetite suppressant following JR’s concerns about her weight, despite a 10-year history of opiate dependence and the addictive potential of the appetite suppressant. When JR complained that the drug made her hyper, Multani told her to continue to take it.

The document also states that Multani conducted a “check” of her weight loss progress that consisted of raising her skirt to expose her legs and thighs, rubbing and pinching the inside of her bare thighs, unzipping her skirt to observe her hips and touching her vagina through her underwear. During this “check” Multani made comments about JR being sexy. JR reported the incident to police that same day.

Source: Accusation in the Matter of the Accusation Against Gurmeet Singh Multani, M.D., Physician’s and Surgeon’s Certificate No. A-48279, Case No. 09-2007-188108, Medical Board of California, filed December 10, 2009.

Milton P. Huang, former psychiatrist at University of California Santa Cruz, surrenders license over oral sex with student

On December 24, 2009, psychiatrist Milton P. Huang voluntarily surrendered his medical license to the Medical Board of California in order to resolve pending charges of unprofessional conduct.

According to the Board’s document, Huang engaged in “sexual abuse, sexual misconduct and/or sexual contact by disrobing and hugging, kissing and touching intimate parts of [a patient’s] body, and/or by engaging in acts of oral copulation.”

Huang was employed at the University of California Santa Cruz’s (UCSC) health center when he committed these acts with a patient of the center. The document states that Huang resigned from his position at the University after being suspended and placed under investigation over the allegations.

During the investigation, he acknowledged that he had engaged in a “boundary violation” with a 21-year-old female patient—a student at UCSC—including acts of physical intimacy starting in his office and continuing in meetings outside the office. 

Source: Decision in the Matter of the Accusation Against Milton Peechuan Huang, M.D., Physician’s and Surgeon’s Certificate No. CFE 50791, File No. 03-2008-189734, Before the Medical Board of California, effective December 24, 2009.

December 11, 2009

Minnesota reprimands child psychiatrist Dexter Whittemore for sexual conduct with patient

On November 14, 2009, the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice reprimanded child-adolescent psychiatrist Dexter Whittemore for unprofessional and unethical conduct, improper management of
medical records and for “engaging in conduct that is sexual or may reasonably be interpreted by the patient as sexual.”

In September 2008, the Board received a complaint alleging that Whittemore failed to maintain appropriate professional boundaries with an adult female patient. The Board initiated an investigation by the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office which revealed that Whittemore engaged in conduct with the patient that is sexual or reasonably interpreted by the patient as sexual.

During 2008, over a two-month period of time, Whittemore conducted three treatment sessions with the patient outside of a clinical setting.

Whittemore made physical advances toward the patient and engaged in verbal and electronic communications with the patient of a personal and sexual nature. When the patient did not retum to Whittemore for further treatment, he did not: (1) formally sever his professional relationship with the patient, (2) generate a discharge summary for the patient’s medical record, or (3) ensure that the patient’s care was transferred to another provider.

On July 8, 2009, Whittemore appeared before the Complaint Review
Committee and admitted that he failed to maintain professional boundaries with the patient.

The Board conditioned and restricted Whittemore’s license as follows:
1. He is reprimanded.
2. He shall not engage in conduct that is sexual or may reasonably be interpreted by the patient as sexual.
3. He shall not provide treatment for patients or meet with patients outside of a hospital or clinical setting.
4. He shall practice in a pre-approved group setting.
5. He shall obtain a pre-approved supervising physician who shall submit quarterly reports to the Board.
6. He shall meet quarterly with a designated Board member.
7. He shall pay a $682 civil penalty.
8. This Order shall remain in effect for a minimum of two years.

Whittemore is also licensed in California and lllinois.

SOURCE: Stipulation and Order, In the Matter of the Medical License of Dexter D. Whittemore, M.D., License No.: 17,811, Before the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice, November 14, 2009.

November 26, 2009

Did your psychiatrist fail to warn you of the possibility of developing repetitive and disfiguring involuntary facial or body movements before prescribing you an antipsychotic drug?

If you answered “yes” and you are experiencing such movements, you may have the basis for a lawsuit.

Psychiatrists are required (as are all health care practitioners) to ensure that patients fully understand the potential effects of any drug they prescribe—the bad effects as well as any good ones.  When failure to do so results in harm to a patient, it may be grounds for legal action. 

Tardive dyskinesia (TD) is a movement disorder caused by prolonged use of antipsychotic drugs (such as Haldol, Risperdal and others).  The word “tardive” means “delayed” or “late developing” and refers to the observation that this disorder begins, not right away, but after months or years of being on a drug or drugs in this class.  The word ”dyskinesia” means “abnormal movements.”

TD is characterized by involuntary movements including:

  • lip smacking
  • blinking
  • raising eyebrows
  • tongue twitching and protrusion
  • puffing of cheeks
  • puckering of lips
  • toe tapping
  • jerking or rhythmic repetitive motions of the fingers, hands, arms, legs, and/or torso

Sometimes these are barely noticeable to an outside observer.  Sometimes the disorder is severe and disabling.

While the condition has been known in some cases to stop with the cessation of the drug1, it has also been known to commence with cessation of the drug.  The symptoms are otherwise irreversible; there is no known cure.

The risk of TD appears to be greater in elderly patients on high doses of the drugs, especially females.2

Types of antipsychotics

Antipsychotic drugs fall into two classes: “typical” and “atypical.”

Typicals are those that were introduced as far back as the early 1950s and include Haldol, Prolixin, Stelazine and Thorazine.

Atypicals were introduced in the early 1990s and include Abilify, Geodon, Risperdal, Seroquel and Zyprexa.  They are called “atypical” because they are chemically different from the earlier (“typical”) kind.

TD statistics

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) receives hundreds of TD and TD-related adverse event reports every year for antipsychotics.  For instance, between 2004 and 2006, the FDA received 204 complaints on Abilify and 104 on Geodon.3 The drug adverse event reports that the FDA receives represent as little as one percent of all such adverse events.4 Thus, the actual number of TD-related events could be in the thousands.

Legal remedy

A patient who develops TD can sue the treating psychiatrist for malpractice on one or more points:

  • Battery or Negligence, for prescribing the drug without any consent (battery) or prescribing it without obtaining the patient’s full informed consent, i.e., failure to ensure that the patient fully understood potential side effects, including the incidence of TD (negligence).  Physicians are required to ensure that patients understand benefits and liabilities of 1) a proposed treatment; 2) any alternative treatments and 3) no treatment.
  • Negligence, for the psychiatrist’s inappropriate assessment, incomplete medical or psychiatric history, deficient medical examination, failure to perform laboratory examination or misdiagnosis.  Negligent malpractice liability can also be based on lack of indication for the drug; failure to monitor and care for side effects, excessive duration of treatment and dosage or failure to consult with another physician.
  • Patients who have been committed to state hospitals may have a claim for violation of their Civil Rights under the 8th and 14th Amendments to the Constitution.  Under the Civil Rights Act, the allegation would be that the treating psychiatrist relying on the authority of state law, deprived a patient of his constitutional rights by providing psychiatric assessment and treatment to the patient and failed to obtain appropriate consent to administer antipsychotic drugs.
  • A patient who develops TD after antipsychotic treatment in prison or a state mental institution can also file a federal Civil Rights action on the basis that the psychiatrist was “deliberately indifferent” to the patient’s condition.

Cases

There is considerable case law on the books to support TD-related malpractice actions.  Patients routinely prevail in such cases:

Gatling v. Perna: The patient alleged her treating psychiatrist did not obtain her informed consent in 1980 for a five-year course of antipsychotics, failed to refer her to a neurologist after she developed TD and concealed his malpractice by reassuring her that her TD was not due to the drug.  Though the trial court dismissed the case due to expiration of the statute of limitations, the Texas Court of Appeals reversed the decision and sent the case back, critical of the notion that the psychiatrist may have fraudulently concealed the patient’s true condition with his reassurances—circumstances which would have kept the statute from expiring.5

Hedin v. United States: This 1985 case involved a veteran who was prescribed Thorazine for four years for alcohol abuse in a Veterans Administration hospital.  The prescribing doctor noted the patient had developed TD and admitted his negligence in prescribing excessive amounts of the drug without proper supervision.  A jury awarded the patient $2,200,000.6

Accardo v. Cenac: In March 1997, a Louisiana jury awarded homemaker Lou Accardo $675,000 in damages against psychiatrist Louis Cenac, who prescribed her the antipsychotic Prolixin for six years, resulting in TD.  Cenac’s defense, that Accardo was not compliant with treatment, was undermined by the fact that his file on Accardo contained billing records for monthly injections of the drug but no corresponding clinical progress notes, hence failure to monitor Accardo’s condition.  Accardo also alleged Cenac did not properly diagnose her and did not obtain her informed consent for the drug.7

Weaver v. Myers: On October 15, 2001, a Rhode Island jury found in favor of a 26-year-old mildly retarded young man whose mother contended that her son’s psychiatrist had, without her consent, put him on an antipsychotic. He subsequently suffered TD, which the psychiatrist recognized but he neither informed the mother nor removed the man from the drug (he prescribed an additional drug to counter the effects). The jury determined that the psychiatrist was negligent and awarded the plaintiff the sum of $1,500,000 plus interest.8

Hamel v. Jaffe: In mid-June 2002, a Hampden (Massachusetts) Superior Court found psychiatrist Kenneth Jaffe negligent in the care and treatment of Joan Hamel, to whom he prescribed the antipsychotic Mellaril for several years, which caused her to develop TD.  Hamel’s lawsuit stated that she was never informed of the potential risks associated with use of the drug and that Jaffe did not monitor her while she was on the drug. The jury awarded her $500,000 in damages.9

Jones v. Margolis: In November 2005, a Virginia woman was awarded $1.6 million against her physician.  The patient had been on the typical antipsychotic Triavil starting in 1982 and took it until her prescribing physician died in 1997.  Her new doctor continued her on the same regimen and in 2003 she developed TD.  The basis of her suit was misdiagnosis, failure to monitor and failure to obtain full informed consent.10

Conclusion

If you are suffering from disfiguring involuntary movements and are taking or have taken a prescribed antipsychotic drug, you may have the basis for a malpractice lawsuit.  A personal injury attorney or law firm can review your case and make this determination.

For more information, please contact Steve Wagner, Director of Litigation, Citizens Commission on Human Rights, at swagner@cchr.org

1 Spivey v. U.S. and Dept. of the Navy, 912 F. 2d 80 (United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit 1990).

2 Physicians Desk Reference, Edition 52, 1998, pg. 1512-13, 1999

3 Decoded FDA MedWatch database for 2004-2006, as posted at http://www.cchrint.org.

4 “Psychiatric Drugs: Chemical Warfare on Humans—interview with Robert Whitaker,” International Center for the Study of Psychiatry and Psychology, October 14, 2005.

5 Gatling v. Perna, 788 S.W. 2d 44 (Court of Appeals of Texas, 1990).

6 Hedin v. U.S., Number 5-83 CIV 3 (D. Minn) (1985).

7 Accardo v. Cenac, Case No. 350, 125 Div. “F,” March 16, 1997, as published by Verdicts, Settlements and Tactics, July 1997.

8 New England Jury Verdict Review & Analysis, Weaver vs. Myers, case #98-2687,October 15, 2001; April 2002.

9 “Jury awards woman $500,000 in lawsuit,” Union News (Springfield, MA), June 26, 2002.

10 “Tappahannock woman awarded $1.6 million for medical malpractice,” Virginia Lawyers Weekly, November 28, 2005.

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