Former model Phyllis Harvey died last year at the age of 59 after undergoing treatment for an undiagnosed mental illness. Now a wrongful death lawsuit alleges that the treatment was part of the cause of her death and that her doctor, psychiatrist Alexander Bystritsky, was using psychoactive drugs to encourage her to make donations to his private research.

It is known that Harvey donated $490,000 to Bystritsky’s research before she died, and the lawsuit alleges the donations were made when she was under the influence of a dangerous combination of drugs that made her mentally unfit for making decisions about the donations.

The lawsuit also alleges that a side effect of the Seroquel she was taking for her undiagnosed mental illness altered her heart rhythms, leading to her death. The complaint notes that Harvey was hospitalized several times for heart abnormalities, and that emergency room doctors associated the heart abnormalities with the drugs she was taking. But when Harvey was released, Bystritsky would resume treatment with the drugs. Seroquel has an FDA boxed warning associating the drug with “sudden death” for elderly patients, and includes warnings about altered heart rhythm.

Psychoactive drugs are commonly used for purposes other than their intended treatment. They are known for making patients more docile, and are often overprescribed in nursing homes, where they are used as “chemical restraints” for residents considered troublesome. It is not inconceivable that Dr. Bystritsky might see the drug’s potential for making Harvey more susceptible to promises that her funding would help him research a machine to cure her condition.

If you have lost a loved one due to a doctor’s questionable prescription, you may be able to get compensation for your loss with a wrongful death lawsuit.

To learn more about your legal rights and options, please contact Robert W. Kerpsack, CO, LPA in Columbus, Ohio, for a free case evaluation.