Original article no longer available
Sarasota Herald-Tribune (FL)
January 22, 1998
Author: Steven Ward, NYT REGIONAL NEWSPAPERS
Three doctors and a Lake City mental health center are accused of misdiagnosing a woman as having major depression and prescribing too much of the wrong kind of medicine, causing her to commit suicide, according to a wrongful death lawsuit.
“They killed my wife with medicine. They burned her mind away,” said Buck Williams, the husband of Bonnie J. Williams, who shot herself in 1995. John C. Willis IV, an Orlando attorney representing Williams, said Tuesday that Bonnie Williams was a mentally healthy 52-year-old woman with no history of depression when her husband brought her into the emergency room of Shands at Lake Shore Hospital on Oct. 22, 1995. Willis said she had a dizzy spell that afternoon because of stress. “They gave her serious anti-depression medication when she did not need it. They gave her medication that actually drove the patient crazy,” Willis said. According to the suit, the medication Willis claims drove Bonnie Williams crazy was Zoloft, a severe anti-depressant.
Later, the same doctor who prescribed the Zoloft for Williams prescribed two additional anti-depressants – Stellazin and Paxil, Willis said. Willis said the doctor who wrongfully prescribed all three medications was Dr. Rajani Kumari Ravindra, a Lake City psychiatrist called in for a consult by Bonnie Williams’ regular physician, Dr. Mason Long. Ravindra, Long and another psychiatrist, Dr. Michael Haser, were all named as defendants in the suit. Haser, a Gainesville psychiatrist, was the last to treat Bonnie Williams, and Willis said Haser altered her dosage of the medication Ravindra prescribed. Williams’ lawsuit is not the first time Ravindra has been sued for depression misdiagnosis. According to Florida Department of Insurance records, Ravindra was sued in 1987 for misdiagnosis in a depression case.
The plaintiff in the 1987 case sued Ravindra after the patient committed suicide, the reports said. The case was settled for $225,000, according to Department of Insurance records. Neither Ravindra nor her attorney, Martin Page, wished to comment on either lawsuit. Haser and Long did not show up in Department of Insurance records going back 15 years. Alliance Medical Practices Inc., which was known as Lake Shore Medical Group in 1995; and Meridian Behavioral Healthcare, which was known then as North Florida Mental Health Center, were both named as defendants in the suit as well. Haser and Ravindra were associated with North Florida; Long was associated with Lake Shore. Officials with Alliance and Meridian did not wish to comment on the suit. Long, now a physician in St. Augustine, did not return a phone call seeking comment. His Jacksonville attorney, Bob Cole, refused to comment on the suit. Haser could not be reached for comment. Williams said his wife had never been diagnosed with depression or any other mental health problems until she went to Lake Shore Hospital.
She was having some stress because her parents were both in nursing homes. “These people kidnapped her from me. That’s what they did,” Williams said. After being transferred from Lake City Medical Center to North Florida Mental Health Center, Williams was released. “She was home but was never the same. She could not function. She told me once, `This medicine killed all my feelings.’ We were married for 36 years. This ruined my life,” Williams said. Bonnie Williams shot herself in the head Dec. 4, 1995. Williams said the lawsuit is not about money. “I want people to know what these doctors did. This may save lives in the future.” Steven Ward is a staff writer for the Lake City Reporter.
Dateline: LAKE CITY Record Number: 9801220378