Albuquerque child psychiatrist charged with death of 36 patients

The New Mexico police are investigating an Albuquerque psychiatrist in relation to drug overdose deaths of 36 patients. The 74-year-old psychiatrist was most commonly known for his work with children. However, authorities have not yet commented on whether any of the deaths involved minors.

During his career, the psychiatrist reportedly engaged in some questionable behaviors. For instance, reports say he was known for dressing up as a clown and prescribing large amounts of psychiatric medications to his minor patients. Some of his patients recall him handing months of prescriptions to them upon walking into his office. He didn’t even sit down and talk to the children about whether they even needed or wanted the medication.

Many of the psychiatrist’s patients were foster children who were referred to him by the Children Youth and Families Department (CYFD) in New Mexico.

Child welfare and health care agencies are normally supposed to oversee child psychiatric drug use. Unfortunately, CYFD never caught the issue. It was not until a grandmother in Albuquerque noticed her three grandsons were taking up to seven psychiatric drugs per day, that she alerted CYFD.

The director of CYFD reviewed medical files of the psychiatrist’s patients. He noticed many of the children taking dangerous amounts of psychiatric medications. The director filed a complaint with the New Mexico Medical Board. The medical board suspended his license 17 months later, and several lawsuits initiated as a result. The search warrant used in the investigation accuses the doctor of over-medicating around 750 children.

Psychiatric drugs are incredibly powerful, and responsible prescriptions practices are critical in protecting patients. This is especially important when prescribing them to child patients. Not only can patients suffer adverse medical events by taking too much medication or the wrong type of medication, they could also become addicted.

As such, doctors who fail to comply with standard prescription practices can face serious penalties, including criminal charges, lawsuits and loss of license.

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