The Chicago Tribune reported last week on a shocking new lawsuit against a Chicago phsyciatrist alleging severe misconduct, fraud, and “assembly-line” care to Illinois residents with mental illnesses. The federal suit is one of the largest ever filed against a single individual related to prescription drug fraud. It is a terribly tragic reminder the tens of thousands of vulnerable patients whose lives can be harmed (or even taken altogether) as a result of the greed, sloppiness, and lack of care by even a single healthcare provider.
Decades of Over-Medication of Residents in Chicago
According to the story, Dr. Michael J. Reinstein had an office in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago and worked with thousands of residents, including many with mental illnesses in Chicago area nursing homes. However, if the allegations in the lawsuit are true, Dr. Reinstein’s care may have proven incredibly deadly, costly, and ineffective. The suit claims that a shocking 140,000 false Medicare and Medicaid claims were filed by the doctor over the years. The claims stem almost exclusively from prescribing anti-psychotic drugs to patients in nursing homes.
In recent years we have argued exhaustively on the dangers of over-prescribing these drugs. The FDA has issued a black box ruling on the increased risk of death when these drugs are given to residents with dementia. On top of that, the over-reliance on these medications among all nursing home residents often means that individuals who can be cared for in other ways, with fewer side effects, do not received the adaptive care available to maximize their well-being without drugs. The bottom line is that use of anti-psychotics in nursing homes remains a serious problem, and this latest case is a clear representation of that problem.
Kickbacks for Prescriptions to Illlinois Nursing Home Residents
The federal lawsuit includes allegations that the doctor made decisions about drug prescriptions based on his own bottom line. Instead of taking each patient individually and assessing whether the drugs were completely necessay and safe, the doctor instead made choices so that he could make more money. That included taking kickbacks from the pharmaceutical companies themselves under the understanding that he would prescribe those medications to patients. This situation represents the absolute worst of medical caregiving, steeped in self-interest with little to no consideration for the vulnerable individuals whose lives hang in the balance.
Residents in nursing homes with mental illnesses in Illinois are at the complete mercy of those charged with their care. When those individuals prioritize their own interests over the safety of residents, there must be full accountability. This sort of conduct cannot stand.
If you ever suspect that a medical caregiver is making medication choices against the best wishes of the patient, be sure to seek out legal help to learn more. Even a single doctor can cause thousands of patients unnecessary harm and suffering. They must be rooted out. The nursing home lawyers at our firm have spent decades working on protecting the rights of residents who do not receive the care to which they are entitled. That includes everything from negligent supervision of residents with dementia to the over-medication of patients which leads to harm.
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