Letters to the editor here: HeraldEd@MiamiHerald.com

    Full story can be found here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/5min/story/1056520.html  


    A disabled boy was lethally overmedicated, a lawsuit contends, as outrage continues over a child's
    suicide while on several drugs last month.
    BY CAROL MARBIN MILLER

    Amid a wide-ranging debate over the proper use of mental health drugs on troubled children, the mother of a
    disabled boy who died in 2007 is claiming in a lawsuit the boy was overdosed by a cocktail of psychiatric drugs,
    including two powerful anti-psychotics.

    Martha Quesada, the mother of 12-year-old Denis Maltez, filed a wrongful death and medical malpractice lawsuit
    Monday in Miami-Dade circuit court, claiming Denis' psychiatrist, Dr. Steven L. Kaplan, and the now-shuttered
    Rainbow Ranch group home overmedicated Denis and failed to properly monitor his condition ...

    Quesada's lawsuit was filed amid a high-profile investigation by the Department of Children & Families into the
    death last month of Gabriel Myers, a 7-year-old foster child who had been taking a cocktail of mental health drugs.
    DCF Secretary George Sheldon appointed a task force to study Gabriel's case, and the use of psychiatric drugs on
    foster kids.

    'TOUGH' TO HANDLE

    Kaplan did not return calls for comment. In a June 2007 article in The Miami Herald, Kaplan said ''it's possible''
    Denis would have been sleepy at school if he had not been given his medications at the right times. But, Kaplan
    added, ``I never saw him dopey or sleepy.''...

According to the 28-page lawsuit, Glatt stopped taking Denis to doctors at Jackson Memorial Hospital after he arrived at the group home
in May 2006, and substituted Kaplan ''without the consent of [Denis's] mother.'' Kaplan was treating several group home clients, the suit
claims.

Kaplan prescribed and refilled four mental health drugs: Seroquel and Zyprexa, both anti-psychotic medications; Depakote, an anti-seizure
drug sometimes used to stabilize moods; and Clonazepam, a tranquilizer. The lawsuit says the drugs were used ``as chemical restraints to
control Denis's behavior.''

Though some of the medications are not approved by the Food and Drug Administration for use on children and carry strong warnings
about possible side-effects, Kaplan ''took no steps to ensure that Denis was not suffering any adverse effects from these medications,'' the
suit claims.

In fact, the suit claims, Kaplan examined the boy only once between between May 26, 2006 and May 23, 2007, the day Denis died.
There were warning signs that the drugs may have been harming the boy, according to the suit, filed by by Fort Lauderdale attorneys Maria
Elena Abate and Howard Talenfeld.
In June 2006, teachers at Denis's school, Ruth Owens Kruse Educational Center, reported the boy was sleeping through class. ...

DCF would not discuss the investigation with a reporter Tuesday.

See related issues:
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Miami Hearld
PSYCHIATRIC DRUGS
Lawsuit says too many psychiatric drugs killed boy
Page created 5/20/09
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