© 2009 The Medical-Legal News
A woman is claiming a South Florida doctor and now-closed group home overmedicated her autistic son and caused his death with chemical restraints, according to The Miami Herald of May 20.
An autopsy showed the son died of serotonin syndrome, a condition where the brain makes too much serotonin as a result of medications.
Martha Quesada, the mother of 12-year-old Denis Maltez, filed a wrongful death suit and a medical malpractice lawsuit against psychiatrist Steven L. Kaplan and the Rainbow Ranch group home.
The suit alleges the “drug cocktail” at issue was composed of Seroquel and Zyprexa (anti-psychotics), Depakote, an anti-seizure and mood drug, and Clonazepam, a tranquilizer.
In a similar case also reported in The Herald on June 4, a Tamarac, Fla., woman, Norma Tringali, has sued Fort Lauderdale Hospital and a psychiatrist, Dr. Sohail Punjwani, who worked there, claiming both overmedicated her 16-year-old son with a cocktail of mental health drugs, some of which have not been approved for the treatment of children.
The son, Emilio Villamar, was diagnosed with bipolar disorder by Punjwani in 2002.
According to the article, the teen was given 16 different drugs, some of which he was still being given when he died from a heart attack.
Ringali is represented by Michael S. Freedland.
The child was under the care of the Florida Department of Children and Families. DCF is investigating and says 3,068 children in the DCF’s care (about 13% of the total) were taking mind-altering drugs.
According to The Herald, experts point out that parents often give informed consent regarding the care given a child when a child is removed from a home, but that parents are largely unaware of what they have signed.