It has been a routine week in my clinical and forensic practice. I evaluated a malpractice case involving a woman on the West Coast whose family doctor from a decade earlier kept prescribing Prozac to her for ten years without ever seeing her again. When she ran into emotional difficulty, she called this doctor who simply raised the dose and added a new drug, still without seeing her for a decade. This woman, a respected professional and parent in her community, then landed in a hospital where her adverse drug reaction was mistaken for a mental illness, more psychiatric drugs were added, and she soon killed herself in a most horrendous fashion.
The cost of psychiatric care in the military has escalated, including a skyrocketing number of psychiatric admissions, according to a recent USA Today front-page story. These statistics unfortunately reflect a great deal of human suffering on the part of our military.
A few years ago I was hired by the FAA to defend the agency against a suit brought by a pilot who wanted to fly while taking a prescription antidepressant. I helped the FAA formulate its defense of the agency’s ban on pilots using antidepressants and, as a result, the ban remained in effect. Pilots remained unable to fly while taking antidepressants, including the newer ones such as Prozac, Paxil, Zoloft, Celexa, Lexapro and Effexor.