Psychiatrist Culpable Despite Parents’ Murder Conviction

2010 Medical Malpractice Trial Report

$2.5 Million Settlement for Overdose Death of Toddler by Psychiatric Drugs

The decedent was a 4 year old little girl that suffered a premature and preventable death from being overmedicated with a powerful psychotropic drug cocktail, including: Clonidine (a sedative), Depakote (a mood stabilizer), and Seroquel (an anti-psychotic). Clonidine and Depakote are not approved by the FDA for the use in children. An autopsy performed by the Medical Examiner concluded that the little girl’s death was caused by an intoxication of her medications.

At just 28 months of age, the defendant started medicating the decedent with anti-psychotic drugs for hyperactivity (ADHD) and bipolar disorder (manic-depression). Plaintiff’s experts were expected to testify that the diagnosis of bipolar disorder is impossible at such an early age.

On multiple occasions over the course of 2 years, the defendant filled prescriptions for psychotropic drugs over the phone without seeing or evaluating the child. The defendant also increased the dosages of these drugs on several occasions, including the months prior to the child’s death.

The medications prescribed by the defendant had noticeable, negative impacts on the child that were neither recognized nor appreciated by the defendant. In November 2006, approximately 6 weeks before her death, a school nurse called the defendant to report that the child was often so tired when she came to school that she could barely walk up the stairs and that she could not participate in classroom activities. The school nurse compared the child to a “floppy doll”. During this conversation, defendant said that she would consider decreasing the amount of the child’s drugs. This never happened. In fact, the defendant ignored the nurse’s warning. The defendant continued to prescribe the same dosage of Clonidine to the child, right up until the day she died. The defendant’s last order of 35 Clonidine pills was filled just 6 days before the child’s death.

The child’s parents were tried and eventually convicted of murder.

It was anticipated that the defendant and her experts would testify that the child’s parents, not the defendant, were responsible for the child’s death.

The parties settled the case for $2.314 million, the extent of defendant’s insurance coverage.

Lubin & Meyer attorneys represented the estate of the deceased in this psychiatric ovedose wrongful death lawsuit.

See related coverage: Rebecca Riley Trial.


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