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Sunday, April 8, 2007

He stopped strangers in the mall: Overdose lawsuits from misdiagnosis

Steven Ridley, a 45-year old husband and father of three in Napavine, Ohio, was suffering from back pain, so he saw his doctor. The doctor said his pain was due to a complication of rheumatic fever, and prescribed methadone, in a dose more than five times higher than recommended. Steven took the medicine, and died three days later.

His doctor believed there was an “epidemic” of undiagnosed patients in the county. Other doctors and state officials discounted this controversial theory. But the doctor persisted in believing it, and he even sometimes stopped strangers in the mall who had the red face he included in his diagnosis. His treatment was to prescribe strong narcotics, often methadone.

The state suspended his license to practice medicine. This was his sixteenth and final lawsuit, for up to 16 deaths of patients in his care.

Advice: If diagnosed with a rare disease, learn all you can about it, so you can ask intelligent skeptical questions.

Read another misdiagnosis story, or read Barbara LeBoe’s source story.

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