The mother of a 32-year-old man who had entered inpatient drug rehabilitation at an Oklahoma rehab facility known as Narconon Arrowhead in Pittsburg County was hopeful that the drug rehab facility would help her son turn his life around. Little did she know that her son would die while receiving drug rehabilitation treatment and that her son would be one of three patients of the facility that have died within a one-year period. The mother recently filed a wrongful death lawsuit that was the latest of three wrongful death lawsuits filed against the corporation that owns and operates Narconon Arrowhead.
The man was found dead in his bed on October 26, 2011, the day after he complained of an extreme headache following a “purification” sauna treatment at the facility. The drug rehab facility’s drug treatment techniques were reportedly based on the teachings of L. Ron Hubbard, the founder of the Church of Scientology, who had no known education or training in drug or alcohol rehabilitation.
According to the wrongful death lawsuit, the man “repeatedly evidenced symptoms of feeling ill, headaches and vomiting” during his stay at Narconon Arrowhead and had asked for over-the-counter pain medication and requested to be seen by a physician but was not allowed to be see a physician for evaluation or treatment.
The wrongful death lawsuit alleges that Narconon Arrowhead advertised that a physician was on-call at the facility 24-hours-a-day but in reality a physician visited the facility only once a week. The lawsuit also names as a defendant the osteopathic physician who is the medical director of Narconon Arrowhead.
The lawsuit seeks compensatory damages in excess of $75,000 for each of the claims of wrongful death, negligence, and violation of the Oklahoma Consumer Protection Act, and further seeks punitive damages in an amount to be determined to sufficiently punish the defendants and to deter reckless conduct in the future.
The wrongful death lawsuit filed by the man’s mother contains allegations that are similar to those in the wrongful death lawsuits filed on behalf of the other two patients who had died at Narconon Arrowhead within the past year involving the death of a 21-year-old woman on April 11, 2012 and the death of a 20-year-old woman on July 19, 2012.
The three pending wrongful death lawsuits are not the only concerns for Narconon Arrowhead: the Pittsburg County, Oklahoma district attorney is investigating Narconon Arrowhead and a separate investigation is being conducted by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services.
Drug and alcohol rehabilitation programs and facilities are supposed to help patients with their addictions and to provide appropriate treatments to help them become drug and alcohol-free. There are generally acceptable treatment options that have proven track records in substance abuse treatment. While some experimental treatments (those that are not yet generally acceptable treatment options) may benefit some substance abuse patients, one reason they may be considered “experimental” is because the long-term success of the treatment and/or the safety of the treatment has not yet been definitively established.
Anyone seeking drug and/or alcohol rehabilitation services, and their families, must carefully research the treatment options, treatment programs, and available treatment facilities to insure that the most appropriate and effective treatment option is selected and that one’s health is not placed in jeopardy.
If you or a family member may have suffered injuries or have been otherwise harmed as a result of bad drug rehabilitation program or harmful alcohol rehabilitation treatment, you should promptly consult with a local medical malpractice attorney to investigate your claim for you and represent you with your claim, if appropriate.
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