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Chris Benoit, Anna Nicole: Are Their Doctors Responsible? Should U Trust Your Doc?

Posted on Jul 9, 2007 in Celebrity Justice, National Issues

Chris Benoit's doctor and Anna Nicole's psychiatrist both claim to have been close friends with their deceased celebrity patients.  Criminal investigations are now underway to determine if these "good pals" were also to blame for their deaths. If the doctors' actions did contribute to the deaths, then expect to have civil suits filed, as well.  Dannielynn's guardian (i.e., Larry Burkhead) can sue for wrongful death based upon medical malpractice.  There's a twist in the Benoit case:  state wrongful death statutes list who can sue for the wrongful death of another, and usually it's limited to immediate family.   Georgia law will decide if any Benoit relatives can legally seek civil remedies. I predict civil suits will be filed.  Why? Last week, Chris Benoit's doctor was indicted by a federal grand jury for illegal distribution of prescription drugs - including Xanex(alprazolam), Percocet (oxicodone), Adderal (amphetamine), and Lorcet(hydrocodone).  It's a seven-count criminal indictment, involving seven prescriptions written to two patients.  It doesn't include his patient, 2004 WWE champion Chris "The Canadian Crippler" Benoit. When Chris Benoit's toxicology reports get in, new charges may well be added. Meanwhile, California authorities are investigating two of Anna Nicole Smith's doctors.  The California Department of Justice is reportedly investigating her psychiatrist, specifically, for prescribing methadone to an 8-month pregnant Anna Nicole, as well as prescribing (click to see the dr's fax) Dilaudid, Lorazepam, Soma, Delmane, Methadone, and Prexige shortly after Daniel's death. All of these are painkillers, and all were prescribed in unusually high amounts, and all carried warnings for pregnant and breast-feeding women.   One pharmacist, when interviewed, explained:  “All together, these drugs potentially will kill you. I would have refused to fill the order.” A search has already revealed that Dr. Astin's average prescription for Chris Benoit was a 10-month supply of anabolic steroids to Benoit every three to four weeks, for at least the past year (from May 4, 2006 through May 9, 2007).  Add to that the discovery that Dr. Astin's prescription records reveal that he okayed approximately 1,000,000 doses of various pharmaceutical controlled substances over the last two years, and the addition of Benoit to the pending charges seems likely. What's the big deal -- shouldn't these doctors be trusted to know what their patients needed, and could physically handle?  No!  U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, David Nahmias,  explains:  “Prescription drugs are controlled substances because if they are abused, they can cause serious addiction, illness, or even death. Dr. Astin allegedly prescribed such drugs like candy, with little regard for appropriate medical practice or the recipients’ health. Dirty doctors should be on notice that they face federal prosecution and prison time as we work with the DEA and other law enforcement partners to protect the health and safety of our communities.” Finally, remember:  doctors make mistakes, too.  If you are suspicious about a prescription you or a loved one have received, then investigate.  Get a second opinion.  A pharmacist can be a wealth of free information.  If harm has occurred, don't wait.  Check into legal remedies promptly; medical malpractice lawsuits have a short timeframe before they are time-barred.�

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