Can a Medication-Related Suicide Be Considered Malpractice?
A 24-year-old Marine veteran in Florida’s Broward County committed suicide by drug overdose after being unable to cope with a breakup, a dying dog and his lack of direction following his service in the Marines. His family blamed the suicide on the medications he received from the Veterans Association Outpatient Clinic, where he was treated for depression and anxiety.
The veteran had complained about his prescription to temazepam, an anti-anxiety and anti-insomnia drug, saying that it made him excessively sleepy. The doctors prescribed him Klonopin, a drug similar to temazepam, which according to the veteran was much better. They also gave him buproprion, an antidepressant. As the man had already shown signs of suicidal tendencies, his medications were strictly regulated by his doctor and his mother, who administered him his pills.
This did not stop the veteran when he made the final decision to take his own life. He went to his VA doctor and got more medicine, including benzodiazepines, which are normally not prescribed to victims of PTSD because of their tendency to induce depression and suicidal thoughts. He ingested the pills, morphine and alcohol after writing “DNR” – Do Not Resuscitate – on his forehead.
By filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the VA doctors, the veteran’s mother hopes to enact reform within the VA system to curb the disturbing trend of soldier suicides.
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