Doc Gives Paxil Rx Via Phone x 10 Years, Pt Kills Self, Doc Pays $1.5M

medical malpractice

Syracuse, N.Y. high school basketball coach, Joseph Mazella, 51, was depressed so his physician, Dr. William Beals, prescribed him Paxil 20mg per day. Mazella continued taking the Paxil, as prescribed, for the next 10 years. He also never set foot in the doctor’s office for that decade. In fact, Mazella never met Beals at all…not once. Instead Beals phoned in prescriptions whenever Mazella called the office running low. Eventually they did meet in Beals office, and Beals fired his patient. On August 9th of 2009, when Mazella called about worsening depression and anxiety, Beals, vacationing in Cape Cod, increased his dosage of Paxil to 40 milligrams and added the antipsychotic drug, Zyprexa.  After the change in his medication Mazella suffered a dramatic decline in his health. Mazella sought treatment at a hospital where another doctor put him on a lower dose of Paxil. Then a third doctor switched him from Paxil to three other medications but never followed up.

“When he got out of the hospital, that’s when it got worse, when his head was burning,” his wife Janice said. “He said it felt like he had hot poison going through his veins. It felt so awful from the inside.”

Soon after, the Mazellas had an office visit with Dr. Beals for the first time in 10 years. According to Janice, Dr. Beals was furious that they had gone to the hospital and “exposed his treatment,” and told them to leave, refusing to continue to treat his never before seen patient.  Days later Janice got out of the shower and found her husband’s body in the garage. He had committed suicide.

In the medical malpractice action that followed, a NY jury this month found Beals negligent in his treatment and liable for causing Mazella’s suicide, awarding Janice and their three children $1.5 million.


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