On November 20, 2012, a medical malpractice jury awarded $1.5 million due to the suicide of a patient who allegedly was improperly prescribed antidepressants and who was not properly monitored while taking the antidepressants. The patient, who was a 51-year-old well-respected high school teacher and coach, committed suicide on September 12, 2009 due to the effects of his prescribed antidressents, according to the medical malpractice lawsuit. The man had not specifically stated that he was suicidal but often complained about the effects of his antidepressant medications.
The medical malpractice lawsuit alleged that the man’s physician was prescribing the antidepressant Paxil over the telephone without having examined the man in ten years. Another of the man’s physicians was also found by the medical malpractice jury to have been negligent but the jury determined that the first physician was 100% responsible for the man’s death. The second physician had switched the man from Paxil to three other medications during the man’s hospitalization and it was alleged that the physician failed to discharge the man with scheduled followup examinations with a physician.
The man’s experience with prescribed antidepressant medications included his physician doubling of his usual dosage of Paxil and the addition of another antidepressant medication following an anxiety attack in August, 2009; the lowering of his dosage of Paxil shortly thereafter when the man thought he was having a heart attack; and, the switch from Paxil to three other medications shortly afterwards, without proper follow up.
After a two-week trial and two days of jury deliberations, the medical malpractice jury awarded $800,000 to the man’s surviving wife for her loss of her husband’s income, $200,000 to the man’s youngest daughter for her loss of her father’s support, guidance, and nurturing, and $100,000 each to the man’s two oldest daughters for their losses. The total judgment will be $1.524 million once an additional $324,000 in interest is added to the jury’s verdict.
The medical malpractice defendant physician who was found 100% liable by the medical malpractice jury was charged in February, 2012 by the state health department with prescribing drugs to his patients for many years without examining them. The physician received three years of probation as a result. Then, in September, 2012, the same physician was subject to discipline by the state board of medicine for his own abuse of drugs and alcohol, and his probation was extended to five years.
The warnings regarding Paxil (Paroxetine) include the following: You should know that your mental health may change in unexpected ways when you take paroxetine or other antidepressants even if you are an adult over 24 years of age. You may become suicidal, especially at the beginning of your treatment and any time that your dose is increased or decreased. You, your family, or your caregiver should call your doctor right away if you experience any of the following symptoms: new or worsening depression; thinking about harming or killing yourself, or planning or trying to do so; extreme worry; agitation; panic attacks; difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep; aggressive behavior; irritability; acting without thinking; severe restlessness; and frenzied abnormal excitement. Be sure that your family or caregiver knows which symptoms may be serious so they can call the doctor if you are unable to seek treatment on your own. Your healthcare provider will want to see you often while you are taking paroxetine, especially at the beginning of your treatment. Be sure to keep all appointments for office visits with your doctor.
If you or a family member suffered harm due to use of antidepressant medication or other drug use, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. You should promptly contact a local medical malpractice attorney who may be able to assist you with your claim.
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