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After fatal overdose, VA faces medical malpractice suit

Many medical malpractice cases in Michigan are very complicated. This is because, in general, medical malpractice occurs when a doctor, medical professional or medical institution is negligent or fails to meet standards of care, resulting in injuries or death. In some cases, of course, a doctor does everything right but the patient's outcome is not good--so it can be difficult in some cases to determine whether the medical professional provided competent and appropriate care or not.

A case that illustrates some of the complexities of medical malpractice law involves a Navy veteran who killed herself with an overdose of an antipsychotic drug. After the 2010 Veteran's Day suicide, the woman's sister accused a veteran's hospital, which prescribed the medication, of medical malpractice.

The case explores the very complicated question of whether doctors and medical providers can or should be held accountable for drug-induced suicides.

The veteran, who was 37 when she died, had tried to overdose on the antipsychotic drug Seroquel several times in the year before her death. Her sister has said that the hospital's decision to provide the unstable veteran with a 120-day supply of the drug after multiple suicide attempts caused her death.

And, in fact, Seroquel is known to cause suicidal thoughts and actions, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The hospital's attorneys have argued that the drug had been effective in treating the veteran's psychosis and the medical staff thought it would have been a greater risk to allow the woman to run out of the drug. The woman's sister, however, says that the veteran's medical record suggests that she had been mistreated by doctors at the hospital for more than a decade.

Source: The Virginian-Pilot, "After Navy vet's suicide, sister sues VA hospital," Bill Sizemore, Nov. 13, 2012

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