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Florida Wrongful Death and Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Filed Over Autistic Boy’s Medication Overdose Death

In Miami-Dade Circuit Court, Martha Quesada is suing Rainbow Ranch group home and psychiatrist Dr. Steven L. Kaplan for Florida medical malpractice and wrongful death. She says that her son, 12-year-old Denis Maltez, died in 2007 because he was overmedicated and the defendants neglected to properly monitor him while he was under their supervision. Autopsy results from the Miami-Dade Medical Examiner’s office indicate that Denis, who has autism, died of serotonin syndrome—a life-threatening condition that can occur when a mix of drugs causes the brain to make too much serotonin, which regulates a person’s mood. Serotonin Syndrome Symptoms can include: • Nausea • Hallucinations • Rapid heart beat • Poor coordination • Blood pressure fluctuation • Overactive reflexes • Diarrhea • Vomiting If not treated quickly, this condition may become fatal. On May 23, 2007, Denis and a number of other people from the group home traveled by van to get a haircut. While in the parking lot, he started kicking and biting staff members. They restrained him and soon after he became unresponsive. Quesada’s Florida wrongful death lawsuit contends that Rainbow Ranch owner David Glatt stopped taking Denis to Jackson Memorial Hospital after the boy was admitted to the group home in 2006. Instead, Kaplan began treating him. She says that Glatt switched her son’s medical care without her consent. Kaplan prescribed and refilled four drugs for her son: anti-psychotic drugs Zyprexa and Seroquel, anti-seizure drug Depakote, and tranquilizer Clonazepam. Even though the Food and Drug Administration has not approved all of the drugs for use on kids and some of the medications are accompanied by strong warnings, Quesada’s medical malpractice lawsuit contends that Kaplan failed to make sure that her son did not experience any side effects from taking the drug. Her complaint also contends that the psychiatrist only examined Denise once between May 26, 2006 and May 23, 2007 even though there were warning signs that he may have been experiencing medication side effects. Teachers at his school found the boy sleeping through class. in 2006, he had to be taken to the emergency room twice. The Rainbow Ranch group home is no longer in operation. Currently, the Department of Children & Families is examining the way psychiatric drugs are used on foster children. This probe comes one month after the death of 7-year-old Gabriel Myers, a foster child that committed suicide. Related Web Resources: Serotonin Syndrome, Psychcentral.com

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