Autistic Teen’s Medication Error

Our client was a young man who was severely autistic whose mother was his representative at trial. At 14, our client began seeing the defendant child psychiatrist for treatment. The defendant psychiatrist prescribed the drug Zyprexa, which is an antipsychotic medication. Our client continued taking the Zyprexa for three years, with only a few office visits at defendant psychiatrist’s Northbrook office during this time period. However, ingestion of the drug caused him to develop tardive dyskinesia, an abnormal involuntary movement disorder involving his facial muscles, tongue, and eyelids. We held the defendant psychiatrist responsible for improperly monitoring the child while he was on Zyprexa to determine the drug’s effectiveness and assess him for the development of drug side effects, failing to provide parents with informed consent concerning the risks and benefits of Zyprexa, failing to diagnose tardive dyskinesia when he presented with complaints of tongue thrusting, and failing to timely order a neurological evaluation. Tardive dyskinesia is a known side effect of antipsychotic medications, which can be reversed or stopped if caught early. In addition to the permanent tardive dyskinesia, the teen developed symptoms of tardive akathisia (motor restlessness with random flailing and incessant motion). The verdict was subsequently settled for the limits of the defendant psychiatrist’s insurance policy of $1,000,000.

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