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Jury finds doctor’s lack of oversight and overmedication caused man’s suicide

Dec 3, 2012 | Doctor Errors

People are often given prescription drugs to treat certain illnesses and ailments. However, medication is not always an appropriate source of treatment, and doctors who do prescribe medication should be monitoring their patients closely.

A man’s family was recently awarded $1.5 million after a doctor was found negligent in his treatment of the man’s mental health issues. The man committed suicide three years ago. However, his wife says his suicide was the result of overmedication and due to the fact that his doctors did not appropriately monitor his condition.

"There’s no way he would’ve wanted to do it," the man’s wife said. "It was done to him. It was done because of the improper care he received."

The man’s doctor had prescribed him Paxil. However, the man had not physically seen his doctor for 10 years. The doctor would fill the man’s prescriptions over the phone. The doctor was found solely responsible for the man’s death.

It is believed that certain antidepressants can cause an increase in suicidal thoughts in some people. Five years ago, the Food and Drug Administration required the makers of antidepressants, including the makers of Paxil, to include warning labels on their packaging.

The man’s wife hopes the success of this lawsuit will serve as a warning to others to beware of overmedication. Ultimately, she hopes the jury’s verdict will help save lives.

In addition to the lawsuit against him, the doctor in this case has been penalized by the state health department. In February, he was placed on probation for three years as a result of his negligence for prescribing drugs to patients without seeing them. Seven months later, his probation was extended to five years for his own abuse of drugs and alcohol.

A story like this is proof that errors made by physicians can have grave consequences. Although many people like to believe that prescription medication will quickly fix their problems, people need to be sure that their medications won’t ultimately end up hurting them.

Source: The Post-Standard, "Widow of former Henninger High coach Joe Mazella wins $1.5M in lawsuit over his suicide," John O’Brien, Nov. 21, 2012

Our firm handles cases similar to the one discussed in this story. To learn more, please visit our New York City medical malpractice page.