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Wisconsin doctor faces malpractice lawsuit, criminal charges for opioid overprescription deaths

A Wisconsin doctor faces a lawsuit filed on behalf of four patients who died after being prescribed high-dose opioid painkillers. The lawsuit accuses Dr. Charles Szyman of fatally over-prescribing the opioid drugs to Heidi Buretta, Monica Debot, Mark Gagnon, and Alan Eggert while they were being treated at Holy Family Memorial Hospital in Manitowoc, Wisconsin.

Dr. Szyman also faces 19 federal counts of illegally prescribing opioid painkillers, including fentanyl, hydrocodone, hydromorphone, morphine, and oxycodone. The pain specialist faces up to 20 years in prison per count if convicted.

Szyman had his Wisconsin medical license temporarily suspended by the state in late 2016. Those proceedings were suspended while the federal allegations against the doctor were still pending. Szyman was fired by Holy Family Memorial in October 2016.

According to the medical malpractice lawsuit filed on behalf of the four patients, Dr. Szyman routinely prescribed opioid painkillers to his patients at doses that far exceeded the medically legitimate use of these drugs. The lawsuit alleges that Szyman had been over-prescribing opioid medications to his patients for more than a decade by the time the four deaths occurred.

Three of the patients involved in the lawsuit – Buretta, Debot, and Eggert – died from a combined drug overdose involving fatal interactions between the opioid medications prescribed by Dr. Szyman and other drugs. The forth patient, Gagnon, died as a result of injuries linked to the opioid medications prescribed by Szyman.

The lawsuit filed on behalf of the four patients also alleges that staff at the Holy Family Memorial Hospital Pharmacy knew about Dr. Szyman excessive prescribing practices. Despite knowledge of Szyman’s routine opioid overprescription, the hospital pharmacy continued to fill painkiller prescriptions ordered by the doctor, generating millions of dollars in revenue for Holy Family Memorial as a result.

A spokesperson for the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Metro Drug Unit said that Dr. Szyman was working with about 400 patients at the time of his arrest. The sheriff’s office says that Syzman issued about 15,000 prescriptions – many for opioid painkillers – over a 15 month period between November 2013 and February 2015.

Victims of Opioid Overprescription May Qualify to File a Lawsuit

Opioid painkillers that are prescribed in excessive doses can lead to abuse, addiction, overdose, and even death. When complications ensue as a result of opioid overprescription, the doctor or hospital who prescribed these medications may be at fault.

If you or a loved one have suffered an overdose caused by opioid painkillers, the doctor or hospital who prescribed these drugs may be at fault. Many doctors and hospital prescribe opioids to their patients in high doses or for an extended period, place them at risk of complications from abuse or addiction linked to these drugs.

The aggressive promotion of opioid medications by the pharmaceutical industry has also played a role in the U.S. opioid epidemic. Physician training programs and other campaigns created by the opioid industry have helped to “educate” doctors to prescribe these drugs, helping to fuel the increased use of opioid medications for moderate pain conditions.

The lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson have filed numerous lawsuits on behalf of opioid overdose victims and their families. Heygood, Orr & Pearson is committed to helping patients and their families who have been harmed by prescription painkillers or the indiscriminate opioid prescribing practices of many doctors.

For more information about filing an opioid overdose lawsuit and to find out whether you may qualify to file a case, contact the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001. You can also reach us by following the link to our free case evaluation form and answering a few brief questions to get started.

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