An award winning coach of a boys high school basketball team was over medicated by more than one doctor and committed suicide because of it, according to the wrongful death lawsuit filed by the widow of the 51-year-old. The man had been a beloved coach, teacher and assistant principle for almost 30 years and his death shocked a community that knew him as an upbeat person with a great sense of humor. Although this case did not originate in Ohio, a number of Ohio residents may be interested in this family's story.
Three years ago, after taking a variety of medications that included antidepressants the man killed himself at his home in New York. The lawsuit claimed the doctor who initially prescribed the medication to the patient was medically negligent and it also named an emergency room doctor at the hospital that also prescribed him medication. The widow said in court that her husband was not suicidal but often complained about the side effects of his medication and the severe pain he suffered from it. Had he been properly treated and not so overly medicated, he would not have done what he did, said his widow.
It turns out his doctor, who had been prescribing the man the antidepressant Paxil had not actually seen his patient for more than ten years. The doctor had been filling the man's prescriptions over the phone. He would receive a call stating the prescription was running out and would simply renew it without question. Last February, the state's health department charged the doctor with medical negligence for prescribing patients drugs for many years without actually seeing or examining them for years at a time. After being put on probation for three years, that probation was extended after the doctor had been disciplined for his own drug and alcohol abuse.
The jury in the wrongful death case also found the emergency room physician that treated the patient at the hospital was also negligent, but not in contributing to the man's death. At the conclusion of the two-week trial, the jury found the man's original doctor was 100 percent at fault in causing his death. The jury awarded more than $1.5 million in damages in the case to the widow and three of his children for loss of guidance, support and nurturing after two days of deliberations.
In 2007, the FDA ordered the makers of antidepressants, including Paxil to place warnings on the packages stating the increased risk of suicidal thoughts associated with the drug's prescribed use.
Source: The Post-Standard, "Widow of former Henninger High coach Joe Mazella wins $1.5M in lawsuit over his suicide," John O'Brien, Nov. 21, 2012
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