Wrongful Death Lawsuits Allege Nevada Physician's Illicit Prescription Drug Prescribing Practices Resulted in Patient Deaths

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The families of three former patients of Dr. Kevin Buckwalter, M.D. filed lawsuits in Clark County District Court alleging he negligently prescribed controlled substances which resulted in the deaths of several patients. Dr. Buckwalter's license to prescribe controlled substances was suspended after news of the deaths was made public.

an imminent danger to public health and safety

The families of three former patients of Henderson, Nevada doctor Kevin Buckwalter, M.D. filed three separate wrongful death lawsuits in Clark County, Nevada District Court. (A588778, Donald L. Baile, et al v. Buckwalter, et al, 09-A588784-C, Margaret E. DeBaun, et al v. Buckwalter, et al, and A09-A588775-C, Renee A. Kulon, et al v. Buckwalter, et al).

The lawsuits are being brought by the families of Barbara Baile, Andrea DeBaun Duncan and Staci Voyda. The families are represented by Dallas attorney Kay L. Van Wey of Van Wey & Johnson, L.L.P. and Las Vegas attorney Peter Wetherall of White and Wetherall, P.C.

The lawsuits allege that Dr. Buckwalter routinely engaged in illicit prescribing practices which resulted in numerous patient deaths. According to court documents, the Nevada Board of Medical Examiners summarily suspended Dr. Buckwalter's license to prescribe controlled substances on November 13, 2008. According to the medical malpractice lawsuit, one business day later he sold his medical practice and abruptly stopped seeing his estimated 1,500 patients. On December 19, 2009 the Drug Enforcement Agency suspended his certificate of registration citing him as "an imminent danger to public health and safety".

One of the lawsuits is brought by the parents of Andrea DeBaun Duncan, who died on October 14, 2005 at the age of 26 from complications of benzodiazepine and opiate intoxication. The lawsuit alleges that Andrea suffered from brain damage due to a tragic car accident which occurred when she was just 20-years-old. The accident left her with severely impaired judgment. The lawsuit details her marriage to Clint Duncan, who also allegedly received massive amounts of controlled substances from Dr. Buckwalter, which eventually resulted in his drug overdose death just four days prior to Andrea's death. The lawsuit states that Dr. Buckwalter prescribed massive amounts of controlled substances, including Xanax, Ultram, Percocet, Flexeril and Lortab to Andrea without a legitimate medical purpose. The lawsuit alleges that Dr. Buckwalter continued prescribing the potentially lethal drugs to her despite her apparent mental impairment and despite her report of seizures. According to the case, Dr. Buckwalter was not qualified to treat her complex medical conditions and did little for her other than write prescriptions for drugs she did not need and could not handle.

Another of the lawsuits involves Barbara Baile who died on April 27, 2008. The lawsuit brought by her surviving husband of 50 years and an adult daughter alleges that Buckwalter prescribed then 69-year-old Baile massive amounts of narcotic pain pills which are known to cause severe constipation, including Lortab, Percocet, Tylenol with Codeine #4 and Fentanyl patches. The lawsuit states that despite her frequent complaints to Buckwalter about constipation and abdominal pain, he continued to prescribe the narcotic pain killers and failed to address her potentially life threatening condition. According to the case, Mrs. Baile recognized her addiction to the narcotics Dr. Buckwalter routinely prescribed and she sought in-patient treatment. The lawsuit describes that before her rehabilitation could begin, her bowels ruptured and she was rushed to a local hospital where doctors performed multiple surgeries in a valiant attempt to save her life. However, she became septic and died as a result of the fecal material which poured into her abdominal cavity as a result of the ruptured bowel.

The third lawsuit involves Staci Voyda who died on August 26, 2008 at the age of 21 of a self inflicted gun shot wound to the head. The lawsuit states that she initially sought treatment from Dr. Buckwalter for treatment of her addiction to prescription narcotics, specifically Oxycontin. The lawsuit alleges that rather than treat her addiction, Dr. Buckwalter prescribed staggering amounts and combinations of powerful narcotics such as Xanax and Methadone. The lawsuit contends that the prescriptions were not issued for a legitimate medical purpose, and further that Dr. Buckwalter continued to prescribe the drugs even after she overdosed and nearly died on the Methadone he prescribed her. According to the case, he continued prescribing her the highest dosage of Xanax available on the market, as many as 240 pills month after month, as well as the powerful pain drug, hydrocodone usually 180 pills at a time. According to the case, he eventually began providing her with prescriptions for oxycodone, which is the active ingredient in the very drug he knew she was addicted to, OxyContin. The lawsuit states that she spiraled downhill, lost hope and the ability to exercise clear judgment which led to her death.

All three of the lawsuits allege that the three deaths are not isolated instances, but rather the result of a pattern and practice of Dr. Buckwalter of indiscriminately prescribing powerful narcotics without regard to whether the patient had a legitimate medical need for them, and without regard to the effect of their long term use on his patients. The lawsuit further alleges that Dr. Buckwalter had no known training or experience in the medical specialty of pain management. According to the court records, he routinely failed to maintain adequate medical records of his patients and allegedly altered the scant medical records he did maintain in an effort to conceal his negligence from his patients and those who might endeavor to stop his dangerous prescribing practices.

Attached to each lawsuit is a declaration of pain management expert Andrea Trescot, M.D. Dr. Trescot is currently professor at the University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle, Washington.

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Kay L. Van Wey
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