Serotonin Syndrome Malpractice Lawsuit

The Illinois Medical Malpractice Blog has a post with a link to a Miami Herald article on a 12-year-old boy who died of serotonin syndrome. The mother of the boy filed a wrongful death and medical malpractice lawsuit last week in Miami-Dade circuit court, claiming the child’s psychiatrist, and the now-closed group home where this autistic boy lived, failed to properly monitor his condition.

Serotonin syndrome is a rare but not idiosyncratic response to what is a good thing in the appropriate dosage: serotonin. This child was taking Seroquel, Zyprexa, Depakote, and Clonazepam.

While it is easy to question whether some of these drugs should have been prescribed for this boy, the medical malpractice question is whether his death was from serotonin syndrome and whether this combination of drugs was such that a reasonably prudent psychiatrist (and the group home) should have not prescribed this level of medication or should have more carefully monitored the child. Specifically, on this point, the malpractice lawsuit alleges that the doctor had not seen the child in a year before the day he died and that the boy exhibited symptoms that he was reacting poorly to the medication.

I can’t prejudge the merits of many malpractice cases, including this one, without seeing all the evidence. But it is easy to make the following judgment: malpractice or not, this is a tragic case.