Archive for the ‘mental health’ Category

South Carolina psychiatrist Catherine Munson reprimanded for sex with patient

In mental health, psychiatry, sexual exploitation on November 25, 2010 at 1:35 am

On August 6, 2010, the South Carolina State Board of Medical Examiners issued a Final Order, reprimanding and suspending psychiatrist Catherine L. Munson.

The Board’s “Findings of Fact” states that between June 24 and August 3, 2009, Munson began a sexual relationship with a patient (“R.W.”). R.W. had been a patient of Munson’s at her previous place of employment (Catawba Mental Health in Rock Hill, S.C.).

The Order states that Munson “engaged in sexual relations with R.W. in various venues, wherein she became the subject of written, audio, and video recordings, with dissemination of the same by R.W.’s domestic partner.”

Munson “engaged in sexual relations with R.W. in various venues, wherein she became the subject of written, audio, and video recordings, with dissemination of the same by R.W.’s domestic partner.”

Further, the document states that Munson became the subject of a purported blackmail scheme by R.W. and her domestic partner (a person Munson was familiar with, who was herself one of R.W.’s former therapists).

Munson did not seek police assistance with regard to the blackmail but instead attempted to cease communication with the patient and her partner, resulting in an escalation of circumstances in which the partner appeared at Munson’s residence and assaulted her.

The suspension of Munson’s license will be stayed upon payment of the Board’s costs of $2,705.

Final Order in the Matter of Catherine L. Munson, M.D., License No. MMD 16094, Case 2009-218, South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, Before the South Carolina State Board of Medical Examiners.


Quebec man sues psychiatrist and mental hospital where he was treated…like an animal

In involuntary commitment, lawsuits against psychiatrists, mental health, Psych Crime, psychiatric abuse, psychiatry on November 9, 2010 at 6:04 am

A Quebec City man is suing a mental hospital and his psychiatrist for a total of $150,000 for putting him in isolation, without a bathroom or a light, for almost 1,200 hours over a three-month period.

The 32 year-old man alleges he was physically abused -he suffered a broken rib -and humiliated during his stay this year at Quebec City’s Robert Giffard Hospital.

He contends he had to urinate and defecate on the floor of the small, windowless isolation room, furnished only with a platform used as a bed.

The room had no toilet, and staff refused to take the man to the bathroom on a number of occasions and didn’t clean up his feces immediately, the lawsuit alleges.

“I was treated like an animal,” the plaintiff told the hospital ombudsman when he filed a complaint in May.

The ombudsman, who filed a report in June on the man’s accusations, found his complaint was justified and blamed hospital management for “abusive” use of isolation.

The ombudsman noted the patient was sometimes kept in isolation because of a lack of personnel, notably during lunch breaks. The report pressed the hospital to stop this practice immediately and remove the man from his psychiatrist care, as there had been a breach of trust.

A hospital spokeswoman called the situation “deplorable” and stressed the hospital enforced the ombudsman’s recommendations swiftly.

The patient, who has asked the court to keep his name confidential and was called Michel by his lawyer, checked himself into the century-old hospital in December 2009 during a psychotic episode, according to information contained in the lawsuit and the ombudsman’s report.

His situation deteriorated quickly because he refused to take his medication, his lawyer noted. The hospital started procedures to get a court order to force him to take his medication in January, but it was not before the end of April that the hospital filed the motion in court.

In the meantime, Michel was kept in isolation for his inconsistent behaviour.

Michel is now being treated at another hospital.

Source: Marianne White, “Patient sues psychiatrist and mental hospital,” Montreal Gazette, November 5, 2010.

2003: Pennsylvania man awarded $1.1 million for involuntary commitment

In antipsychotic drugs, DSM, involuntary commitment, lawsuits against psychiatrists, mental health, psychiatric abuse, psychiatry on October 20, 2010 at 9:32 pm

(This is a noteworthy news story from 2003 which, until now, was inexplicably no longer available on the worldwide web.)

An Oil City man has been awarded more than $1.1 million in damages in a civil suit against Northwest Medical Center in which the man claimed he was falsely imprisoned for more than seven days in 1993.

Sources said the damages, which were determined by a jury on Monday, are some of the biggest ever awarded in Venango County. The verdict was reached following a civil jury trial last week in Venango County Court.

The lawsuit, which was filed in 1996, claimed Roy E. Lund was committed against his will at the hospital Nov. 23, 1993, for emergency mental examination and treatment.

A civil complaint filed at the Venango County Courthouse states that the Oil City Police Department arrived at Lund’s home after receiving a call from Lund’s wife alleging that he threatened her life.

Officers put Lund in handcuffs and took him to Northwest Medical Center in Oil City, where he was involuntarily committed for emergency medical examination and treatment, the papers indicate.

According to the lawsuit, “the allegations which were the basis for Lund’s involuntary commitment were false.”

State law required that Lund be discharged from the hospital within five days from his time of commitment, the papers said.

Lund said hospital personnel filed an application for extended involuntary treatment less than a day after he was committed and that he was assigned a lawyer against his will to represent him at a hearing scheduled on the application for extended involuntary treatment.

“Jurors also voted 11-1 that the hospital…falsely imprisoned Lund, and that Lund suffered injuries as a result… . Jurors also voted 11-1 that the hospital’s conduct was a factual cause in bringing about Lund’s harm.”

The lawsuit states a hearing was conducted Nov. 30, 1993, approximately two days past the maximum five-day commitment period, and in violation of a state law that mandated Lund was entitled to a hearing within 24 hours of the application for extended treatment.

“During Lund’s involuntary commitment at Northwest, psychological testing revealed Lund’s behavior was not consistent with allegations that Lund was rageful or assaultive,” the suit said.

The lawsuit further states that the stress from the loss of a family member, who had recently committed suicide, and marital problems contributed to an “angry, agitated episode” and that he was “quite reserved and conforming” and that “no further psychological assessment was needed.”

“Upon Lund’s information and belief, Northwest had no factual basis upon which to conclude Lund’s treatment needed to be extended beyond 120 hours (five days) pursuant to (the Mental Health Procedures Act),” the papers said.

Lund was discharged from the hospital following the hearing.

The jury unanimously found that Northwest Medical Center violated the Mental Health Procedures Act during Lund’s involuntary commitment to its psychiatric ward and that Lund suffered harm as a result of the hospital’s conduct.

Jurors also voted 11-1 that the hospital was “grossly negligent” in its violation of the Mental Health Procedures Act, that the hospital falsely imprisoned Lund, and that Lund suffered injuries as a result of Northwest Medical Center’s conduct. Jurors also voted 11-1 that the hospital’s conduct was a factual cause in bringing about Lund’s harm.

The jury decided 10-2 that the conduct of Northwest Medical Center that caused damage to Lund was outrageous and done with reckless indifference to his rights.

The jury awarded Lund $750,000 in compensatory damages and $425,000 in punitive damages.

Source: Michelle Sottiaux, “Man awarded $1.1 million in suit against hospital,” Oil City Derrick, June 17, 2003

Milestone case: Hospital ordered to cease shocking patients

In ECT, Electroshock, mental health, psychiatric abuse on October 5, 2010 at 9:50 pm

Atze Akkerman was a devoted husband, father and professional musician who, after receiving electroshock (shock treatment) could no longer remember his wife of 20 years, his children, or how to play music. In the five years since receiving the brutal treatment, his memory has not returned.

Akkerman and his wife filed suit against Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital and psychiatrist Dr. Joseph Johnson, who performed the shock, claiming they were negligent and had deceived Mr. Akkerman by withholding from him the dangers of the treatment and misrepresenting that it was “safe and effective.”

In January 2005, Santa Barbara Superior Court Judge Denise deBellefeuille agreed. The judge ruled that a psychiatrist and a psychiatric hospital deceived its patients by failing to tell them that electroconvulsive therapy (or ECT) – better known as shock treatment – causes irreversible memory loss, and prohibited the hospital from giving shock treatments. The court ordered that the hospital must “immediately cease providing ECT to patients, and advise its attending physicians that the hospital has lost the right to perform such treatment.”

“No one who knew what they were getting into would ever agree to this damaging treatment. It destroys memory, and creates chaos in the lives of the patients who are betrayed, ” said one expert.

The court also ruled psychiatrist Joseph Johnson had violated the California consumer fraud statutes. Johnson (who has performed shock treatment for over 20 years), admitted that neither he nor anyone else understands how shock treatment works, and that the consent form Johnson provided to patients was “decidedly misleading in a critical regard,” concerning the permanency of memory loss.

The Akkerman’s attorney, Kendrick Moxon stated, “The psychiatrist who shocked Mr. Akkerman simply betrayed a patient who came to him for help. He admitted that the so-called treatment couldn’t cure anything. Why is shock treatment still being done at all? Because the psychiatric community is lying to the patients that come to it for help.”

Moxon says that psychiatrists minimize the seriousness of the memory loss and other dangerous side effects of this barbaric treatment, and essentially dupe their patients into consent.

Expert witnesses who testified during the 6-week trial, said shock treatment is well known to cause permanent, irreversible memory loss. “No one who knew what they were getting into would ever agree to this damaging treatment. It destroys memory, and creates chaos in the lives of the patients who are betrayed, ” said one expert.

The Court noted that Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital argued that it was the psychiatrist’s responsibility to provide informed consent to the patient. The court disagreed, finding the argument “disingenuous” because the hospital and psychiatrist work in concert. The Court stated, “Here the hospital undertook a duty and cannot pass the buck.”

Contrary to psychiatrists’ assertions that shock treatment is “safe and effective” patients who have had the treatment tell a different story–if they can remember it. Many patients report loss of huge volumes of their memories, their childhood, even their own children. Patients often report of 5, 10, and 20 years of memory being wiped out.

Moxon asserts, “Psychiatrists pretend shock treatment is no longer like the violent bone breaking practice of the past, as portrayed in enduring images of “One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest.” They are lying. There is no difference in what happens to the brain during shock treatment in 1954 or 2004. The violence exerted on the brain is exactly the same.”

In fact, the result to patients is identical. Like Akkerman, another more notable figure suffered the same loss, the ability to execute his art. In 1961, after receiving shock treatments, Nobel Prize winning author Ernest Hemingway noted, “What is the sense of ruining my head and erasing my memory, which is my capital, and putting me out of business? It was a brilliant cure, but we lost the patient.” No longer able to write, Hemingway committed suicide.

Akkerman chose to fight back, and turn his ordeal into a crusade. “I am hopeful that this case may serve to help others,” he says, “I was lied to, and I know I am not the only one.”

Kendrick Moxon is a Los Angeles attorney and also a legal advisor to the Citizens Commission on Human Rights, and international psychiatric watchdog established the by the Church of Scientology to investigate expose and eradicate psychiatric violations of human rights.

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

Harvard psychiatrist excuses profession’s failures: “We have very little control over suicide”

In mental health, psychiatry on August 19, 2010 at 2:40 am

As a psychiatrist working in the trenches of the public sector for almost two decades, I have had several patients commit suicide and many more attempt suicide. Unless other information comes to light, whether Philip Markoff’s suicide was spontaneous or planned, it seems unlikely that Nashua Street Jail officials could have stopped him.

Preventing suicide is probably the most fundamental endeavor psychiatrists are charged with. We ask our patients general questions about harming themselves and specific questions about whether they have any intention or plan to kill themselves. We also know that certain characteristics, such as prior suicide attempt, substance abuse, and divorce — carry an increased risk of suicide.

But, unfortunately, as I have repeatedly told my students and psychiatric residents, we have very little control over whether a patient will attempt suicide. A relatively happy person might leave our office and receive devastating news. Further, patients who know that we will do everything we can to prevent them from killing themselves — including forcibly hospitalizing them — will lie to us. As one of my longtime patients has told me more than once, “If and when I want to kill myself, you are the last person I’m going to tell.’’

Whatever his psychopathology, Markoff was smart enough to cover his tracks if he was planning to kill himself. If, on the other hand, his suicide was a spur-of-the-moment decision, it would have been that much more difficult to prevent.

Source:  Dr. J. Wesley Boyd, “Limits to what psychiatrist can do,” Boston Globe, August 19, 2010.  Boyd is assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and on staff at Cambridge Health Alliance.

State revokes mental health counselor’s license for sex with teen client

In mental health, sexual exploitation, Uncategorized on May 27, 2010 at 3:17 am

On May 6, 2010, the Washington Department of Health (DoH) revoked the credential of registered counselor Andrew Phillips for unprofessional conduct.

The DoH’s charges against Phillips (which were issued in April 2010) state that between July and August 2009, Phillips, who was then employed at at Community Counseling Institute of Tacoma, provided drug and alcohol counseling to a 17-year-old female client.   Between approximately October 2009 and November 2009, the client was placed with Phillips and his wife in the course of a dependency action.  Between these latter dates, Phillips is alleged to have engaged in sexual misconduct with the teenager, including but not limited to hugging and kissing the client, fondling client’s breasts, sexual intercourse and mutual oral sex.

Phillips was given the opportunity to respond to the charges in a DoH hearing but affirmatively waived his opportunity for a hearing in the matter.

Source: Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law and Final Order (Waiver of Hearing) in the Matter of Andrew B. Phillips, Credential No. RC 60010154, Case No. M2010-314, State of Washington Department of Health, filed May 6, 2010 and Vernal Coleman, “Tacoma Drug Counselor Accused of Having Sex With 17-Year-Old Former Patient,” Tacoma Weekly, April 21, 2010.

Georgia psychiatrist Seth A. Pope surrenders license following criminal charges

In mental health, psychiatry, sexual exploitation, Uncategorized on May 5, 2010 at 3:42 am

On January 7, 2010, psychiatrist Seth Pope surrendered his medical license to the Georgia Composite Medical Board, acknowledging “that this surrender shall have the same effect as a revocation of my license….”  According to the Board’s interim consent order, “On or about July 2009, the Board received information alleging [Pope] was indicted in Dekalb Superior Court for one count of…sexual assault against a patient, and one count of…unlawful prescription.”  Pope pleaded not guilty to the charges but, according to the Board’s document, “desires to voluntarily suspend his license so that he can devote his undivided attention to the defense of the charges against him.”

Pope’s office is on the campus of Peachford Hospital, a psychiatric facility that is owned and administered by Universal Health Services, a Pennsylvania-based health care management company with more than 100 behavioral health facilities.

Universal Health Services has been the subject of interest by concerned groups due to an apparent disregard for patient safety and well-being, which is documented in a report you can read here.

Source: Voluntary Surrender in the Matter of Seth Pop, M.D., License No. 23710, Docket No. 20100054, Before the Georgia Composite Medical Board, filed January 7, 2010.

Boy dies from over-medication; psychiatrist ignored “hundreds” of letters of concern

In antipsychotic drugs, mental health, psychiatry on April 21, 2010 at 4:07 am

A 12-year-old boy in state care died from the side effects of over-medication, according to the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner.   The psychiatrist who prescribed several psychiatric drugs to the boy–tow of them at the highest doses recommended for adults–claims he did not know the boy was over-medicated.  Reports from several state agencies say otherwise.

Born with autism, 12-year-old Denis Maltez was “hyper, needy, pesty,” his psychiatrist wrote following a May 2007 visit.

Dr. Steven L. Kaplan solved the 70-pound boy’s problems with a prescription pad, writing orders for two different anti-psychotic drugs along with a tranquilizer and a mood stabilizer — two of them in the highest doses recommended for adults, records show.

When state medical regulators sent Kaplan letters suggesting the dosages were worrisome, he ignored them.

Two weeks after Kaplan last saw the boy, on May 23, 2007, Denis simply stopped breathing. The Miami-Dade medical examiner’s office attributed the death to a life-threatening side effect of over-medication, records show.

“I . . . never had any suspicion he was being overmedicated,” Kaplan testified in a November 2009 sworn statement.

A review of records from three state agencies, however, makes clear that plenty of other people did.

Though a number of Florida agency heads have wrung their hands about Kaplan’s methods for more than three years, he has never been disciplined. The state Medicaid program, which insures the needy, asked the state Board of Medicine to investigate Kaplan in 2008, but the complaint was dismissed, records show.

Disability administrators encouraged underlings to send him new patients just as the agency’s chief described his practices as “very disturbing.”


Florida’s regulatory history with Kaplan — which includes four state agencies and thousands of pages of records — raises important questions. Among them: Does the state have an adequate regulatory scheme for doctors who work with the most vulnerable? Can the state effectively oversee doctors who reject advice from their peers?

“I . . . never had any suspicion he was being overmedicated,” Kaplan testified in a November 2009 sworn statement.

“Three agencies all raised concerns and red flags, and each agency was saying this is somebody else’s job to take it a step further,” said Department of Children & Families Secretary George Sheldon. “I’m not sure what the solution is.”

Sheldon blamed much of the problem on historically poor billing rates for doctors who are paid by Medicaid, the state and federal insurance program for the poor and disabled.

“I think it’s difficult to recruit in the Medicaid arena any child psychiatrist,” Sheldon said. “The rates really do have an impact on who is willing to do it.”

Kaplan, who mainly practices in Miami-Dade, declined to speak with a Miami Herald reporter.

With as many as 800 patients in South Florida — all but one percent of them disabled or impoverished children insured by either Medicaid or Medicare — Kaplan is listed by the Agency for Healthcare Administration as number five on their list of doctors whose mental health prescriptions were red-flagged by an oversight group.

Denis was 8 when his volatility and violent outbursts prompted his mother, Martha Quesada, to move him into a sparkling new Miami group home called Rainbow Ranch. Administrators for the Agency for Persons with Disabilities had recommended the home, run by a man who had once pleaded guilty to practicing medicine without a license.

In May 2006, the owner of Rainbow Ranch discontinued Denis’ treatment by a team at Jackson Memorial Hospital and instead hired Kaplan, who already was treating the group home’s other residents, Kaplan said in a deposition taken Nov. 2 by Quesada’s attorney, Howard Talenfeld.

In testimony that is part of an ongoing lawsuit by Denis’ mother, Kaplan acknowledged that he never once spoke to Quesada before prescribing powerful mind-altering drugs, and never sought nor obtained her consent for treatment.

“I was told that the boy’s mother had abandoned him,” Kaplan testified. In fact, Quesada had never been stripped of her parental rights by the state, and had remained actively involved in Denis’ care.

Denis was prescribed 20 milligrams of Zyprexa, 800 milligrams of Seroquel — the highest adult dose for both anti-psychotics, a reviewer said — one-half milligram of Klonopin, a tranquilizer and 2000 milligrams of Depakote, a mood stabilizer — also a high dose for Denis’ 70-pound frame. Neither of the anti-psychotic drugs has been approved for use with children.

In his deposition, Kaplan testified he was aware that the two anti-psychotic drugs both carried an “increased risk of sudden cardiac death.”

By early July, 2006, group home workers had told Kaplan the boy was “lethargic and unresponsive in the morning,” Kaplan said in his deposition. On July 17 that year, teachers at Denis’ school noted that he was sleeping through class, and he was taken to Miami Children’s Hospital for emergency medical treatment.

That same month, on July 24, Kaplan received a letter from the Medicaid Drug Therapy Management Program for Behavioral Health, a program of the Agency for Health Care Administration run by the University of South Florida, questioning his medication of Denis. On four “key” indicators, the letter said, Kaplan’s prescribing of drugs to Denis fell outside generally accepted practices.

And AHCA was not the only state agency with concerns.

DCF received its first report involving Denis on Oct. 26, 2006. The report made some findings of medical neglect based on a teacher’s complaints that Denis was “sleeping in class, shaking and trembling.”

And on Jan. 9, 2007, DCF received another report that, among other things, Denis had “a history of being overmedicated — based on an August 2006 visit to Baptist Hospital with symptoms of overmedication. “Denis was sleepy because he was over-medicated,” a DCF investigator was told.

In all, DCF conducted six investigations of Denis’ well-being, some of them including allegations that Denis was being over-drugged, an Agency for Persons with Disabilities report says. Sheldon said his agency had received a total of eight calls to the state hot line about Kaplan.


The disabilities agency also had been warned that Kaplan’s patients appeared to be drugged.

An April 2007 memo from an APD administrator said a number of caregivers in Miami had expressed concerns that Kaplan’s patients at Rainbow Ranch appeared to be overmedicated. A former group home manager said she found “clients always asleep and barely walking.” The mother of one boy said he went home for Thanksgiving all doped up.

Denis last saw his psychiatrist on May 10, 2007. In progress notes from the visit, Kaplan wrote the boy was sleepy during the day, and school officials felt he was drugged. He added: “Hyper, needy, pesty.”

Denis died two weeks later, on May 23, 2007. He was 12.

In his deposition, Kaplan said he is not responsible for Denis’ death. “I don’t believe he died of anything that I did,” he said.

After Denis’ death, APD hired a psychiatrist, Jorge J. Villalba, to study the group home’s practices. He reported “overmedication with sedation of clients,” noting that 99 percent of the group home residents were on an anti-psychotic drug.

Villalba wrote that Denis had been on three different mental health drugs, two of them in the maximum dose, and that “in combination, all three of these agents have additive effects as a central nervous system depressant.” The drugs, he added, “may have been contributing factors in the client’s death.”

The following December, the Miami-Dade medical examiner’s office concluded Denis did die of overmedication, from a disorder called Serotonin Syndrome.

A week after the medical examiner’s report was released, on Dec. 28, 2007, the then-head of the disabilities agency, Jane E. Johnson, called the case “very disturbing — especially if that psychiatrist is still providing services through [the] Medicaid state plan.”

During the next two years, administrators at both the healthcare and disabilities agencies continued to monitor Kaplan’s activities, writing dozens of e-mails and reports:

• A nurse on staff at APD noted on Feb. 5, 2008, that one boy under Kaplan’s care “was taking 10 medications in total,” including two anti-psychotic drugs and two tranquilizers. “All of the medication listed cause somnolence,” the nurse wrote.

• Thirteen days later, on Feb. 28, 2008, Kaplan received an “academic detailing” visit by a pharmacy expert from the University of South Florida, as part of the university’s effort to oversee problematic prescribers for the state healthcare agency. Though Kaplan was reportedly “very courteous and professional,” the reviewer noted, “he didn’t appear familiar with the material or interested in the guidelines.”

• In mid-March 2008, several disabilities administrators exchanged e-mails voicing worries about Kaplan. “He’s still practicing and we’re concerned,” Chuck Faircloth, APD’s inspector general, wrote on March 12.

The next day, Evelyn Alvarez, a top Miami administrator, wrote: “Our medical case manager as well as I continue to have concerns regarding the abundance of meds that he is prescribing to some of our consumers.”

• Two months later, another USF monitor visited Kaplan in his office. Kaplan, he wrote, said that his patients are “schizophrenic and become violent, aggressive, dangerous” — making such medication necessary. “Provider states that he does not use antipsychotic medication for sedation,” a report says.

• In June, 2008, while both agencies were expressing concern about Kaplan’s use of mental health drugs, at least two APD administrators suggested he be considered for new patients when scores of disabled people were to be moved from a large institution in Fort Myers into group homes.

“He has lots of clients, so he may well qualify from the point of view of a large and varied practice,” wrote Alvarez, who only three months earlier had expressed concerns.

• A USF monitor once again visited Kaplan on May 15, 2009.

“He said he did not find the time to deal with non-important things such as paperwork,” a report says of the visit. “He said he had been practicing long enough to know how to treat his patients and was tired of being told what to do.”


In his deposition, Kaplan acknowledged he received “hundreds” of letters from the state suggesting he revise his prescribing practices. “I didn’t think it required any kind of response,” he said. He later added: “I never thought of myself as a red-flagged physician.”

Talenfeld, Quesada’s lawyer, urged healthcare and disability administrators in a letter to better protect disabled children, “who are powerless to protect themselves from being unnecessarily drugged for the convenience of staff. . . . Without proper oversight and action by your respective state agencies, these individuals will continue to be in harm’s way.”

Administrators at AHCA declined to discuss the agency’s history with Kaplan at length. In an e-mail to The Herald, the agency’s spokeswoman, Tiffany Vause, said it was “extremely difficult to measure the quality of prescribing practices” based upon Medicaid claims.

The USF program, she said, enables doctors to explain their practices — which may be entirely appropriate — or to change their habits once they are better informed.

“Dr. Kaplan is being monitored through this system and has received feedback from the USF clinical staff, Vause said. “The agency is closely monitoring this physician’s claims and the unique patient caseload he treats and will take appropriate action. This can include termination from the Medicaid program.”

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

In mental health, psychiatric abuse, psychiatry, sexual exploitation, Uncategorized on February 19, 2010 at 7:51 pm

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:

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?

In antipsychotic drugs, mental health, psychiatry on January 21, 2010 at 6:46 pm

If you answered “yes” and you are experiencing such movement, 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.


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


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

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

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.

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