No, this in not about Michael Jackson, though it should be. How long do you think it will be before they arrest some doctor(s) in his case? Hummm. Very interesting, and Time will Tell.
Dr. Stephen Schneider and Dr Lawrence Simons of Haysville, Kansas, face civil suits over pain pill prescriptions
BY RON SYLVESTER
The Wichita Eagle
Two Haysville doctors facing federal criminal charges over their prescribing of painkillers also share mounting claims of malpractice in civil court.
Stephen Schneider and Lawrence Simons, who worked together at Schneider's clinic in Haysville, were sued this week by the family of a woman who died from an accidental drug overdose.
The Sedgwick County District Court suit claims Patsy Westcoat Fowler got the drugs that killed her from prescriptions written by the two doctors.
It's the sixth malpractice lawsuit filed against them in 2008 and 2009. The Kansas Board of Healing Arts suspended Schneider's medical license and closed the clinic in January 2008.
Simons, meanwhile, is set for trial next month in U.S. District Court in Wichita on 36 criminal charges of trading narcotic prescriptions for favors. None of the criminal charges against Simons accuse him of causing patient deaths.
The lawsuits do.
The latest, filed Tuesday by Fowler's family, claims the doctors continued to give her narcotics despite family members' pleas for them to stop and evidence that Fowler was a drug addict.
Lawyers representing Schneider and Connie White, a physician assistant at the clinic who is also named as a defendant in the lawsuit, declined to talk about the cases. The lawyer representing Simons in the malpractice claims did not return phone calls.
Records filed in previous suits say patients of Simons and Schneider abused drugs given to them by the doctors, causing their own deaths.
"The defense in these cases has been that the patients hid their drug and alcohol addictions from the doctors," said Larry Wall, the lawyer representing Fowler's family.
But the doctors knew about Fowler's addiction, Wall said.
The Wichita Treatment Center sent Schneider a notice in 1999 saying Fowler had been diagnosed with "opiate dependency." Her regimen at the substance abuse treatment center included taking methadone, a pain reliever used in detoxification.
Fowler sought treatment from the Haysville doctors for chronic anxiety and back pain, according to court documents.
"We are quite concerned about cross-addicting medications, as most of our patients have abused multiple substances throughout their lives," said the statement from Niranjan Baxi, medical director for the Wichita Treatment Center.
The center asked Schneider to indicate whether Fowler needed to continue with the medications he was providing. There's no documentation that Schneider responded, Wall said.
Fowler's family said they called Schneider's office on several occasions, beginning in 2000. They said they told the doctor's office that Fowler had been arrested for altering a hospital emergency room prescription, changing it from six to 60 pills of Soma, a brand of muscle relaxant.
Schneider, meanwhile, gave Fowler early refills of Soma, the narcotic Lortab and the anti-anxiety drug Xanax, the lawsuit said.
At one point, Schneider refused to treat Fowler, the lawsuit said, but the doctor accepted her again as a patient when he opened his Haysville clinic in 2002.
Fowler remained a patient of Schneider's, and then Simons', the lawsuit said, until she died in July 2007 at age 49.
Jaime Oeberst, Sedgwick County coroner, ruled that Fowler's accidental death came as a result of "mixed drug intoxication."
Schneider and his wife, Linda, a licensed practical nurse who managed the clinic, are accused of helping to cause 59 patient deaths through drug overdoses. They face criminal charges in 21 of the deaths.
Their lawyers in that case have said they are not responsible for the deaths.
The couple is out on bond while their trial is on hold, awaiting a decision by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals on whether a Wichita judge can limit prosecutors' evidence.
Reach Ron Sylvester at 316-268-6514 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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EXPOSING the FDA and the USDA - Broad Casting here the things that they would prefer us NOT to know about our FOOD & DRUGS & Farming.