Woman Claims Kaiser Docs Killed Mother through Mixed-Drug OD
By William Dotinga
2-14-2013 13:33:00

OAKLAND, Calif. (CN) - A woman claims Kaiser Permanente doctors killed her mother by over-prescribing depressants that led to her suffocation.

Kristina Gardner sued Doctors Alan Inocentes, Russell Enoch and Sahana Huq, as well as Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals, Southern California Permanente Medical Group in Alameda County court. She seeks damages for medical negligence and wrongful death.

According to Gardner's complaint, the defendant doctors prescribed several pain medications for her mother, including potent fentanyl and methadone. Gardner says her mother had several conditions that predisposed her to hypoventilation - which the doctors knew - and that the drugs could depress her already weakened respiratory system.

While defendant Inocentes prescribed 60 mg of fentanyl and methadone, Enoch prescribed topiramate, trazodone, butalbital, acyclovir, ibuprofen, a lidocaine patch and lactulose. Meanwhile, Huq - a psychiatrist - gave Gardner's mother temazepam, clonazepam, Seroquel and Lexapro, according to the complaint.

Gardner says that the package warnings on the fentanyl patch alone should have been enough to give the defendant doctors pause.

"The package insert for the patch warns doctors that prescribing fentanyl patches with other central nervous system depressants such as other narcotics and benzodiazepines can cause potentially fatal respiratory depression. Despite this warning, defendants collectively prescribed a high dose of fentanyl with another narcotic (methadone), two benzodiazepines (temazepam and clonazepam) and numerous other medications (listed above) that depress the central nervous system," Gardner says in her complaint. (Parentheses in original.)

She says her mother died of a mixed drug overdose, the combination of fentanyl and the numerous other central nervous system-depressing medications in her system.

Gardner is represented by Charles Miller of the firm Heygood, Orr & Pearson in Dallas, Texas.