Man Blames His Doctors For Dad’s Murder

     (CN) – A Tennessee man claims in a lawsuit filed May 11 that he stabbed and killed his father during a psychotic episode because his schizophrenia medication was abruptly changed.
     Daniel Cantrell sued Centennial Psychiatric Associates LLC, nurse practitioner Michelle Dahl, Robert Jack, M.D. and Michael Murphy, M.D. in Davidson County circuit court for medical malpractice.
     He claims he was diagnosed with schizophrenia by Murphy as early as 2007, and he took anti-psychotic drugs to manage his condition. He gradually switched from Abilify to Geodon in 2010 and 2011, according to the complaint, before Murphy left Centennial in 2014 to take a job as National Medical Director for HCA Behavioral Health Sciences.
     Cantrell’s care was transitioned to Dahl, who “proceeded to make sudden, massive, and medically disastrous changes to his established course of treatment,” the lawsuit states.
     Dahl did not diagnose an impending psychotic break and abruptly changed his medication, Cantrell claims.
     “Nurse Dahl’s instruction to cease Geodon and replace it with an ineffectual dose of Seroquel was tantamount to instructing Daniel to simply stop taking medicine – in the midst of a psychotic episode,” the complaint states. “Over the next 48 hours, Daniel’s mental state rapidly deteriorated. He exhibited clear physical manifestations associated with Geodon withdrawal and psychosis.”
     Cantrell allegedly thought his father and construction workers at a home his parents were building were going to torture and murder him and he became “increasingly agitated and paranoid.”
     “At that same time, Daniel started picking up, walking around with, and alternatively putting down a large kitchen knife. Placed on the phone with his brother, Daniel remained fixated on the [new] house,” the complaint states. “Referring to the circular saws and other tools at the construction site, Daniel stated that, ‘[e]very room we went into looked like a torture room. I thought dad hired the workers to kill me. Every room had some kind of torture device in it.'”
     Cantrell’s parents were frantically trying to reach Murphy, Dahl, Jack and Centennial just before tragedy struck, according to the complaint.
     “Minutes later, knife in hand and finally overtaken by the delusions, Daniel stabbed his father to death,” the lawsuit states.
     Cantrell’s wife discovered the body of his father and called his mother, asking her to come right away, and 911, according to the complaint. Cantrell’s lawsuit claims that while his wife was giving CPR to his father, as instructed by the 911 operator, Cantrell was still clearly in a delusional state.
     “He began mimicking Kristin’s movements and trying to help with the CPR by giving Oliver’s body mouth to mouth,” the complaint states. “At one point, he stroked Oliver’s head and face and said, ‘It’s ok. Kristin is here and she will help you.'”
     Cantrell’s mental state was again observed during a police interview later that evening, according to the lawsuit.
     “The video of the interview confirms the depth of Daniel’s psychosis,” the complaint states. “At separate points, Daniel strips naked; hears and believes there are ‘thundering elephants’ in the ceiling; and begins experiencing visual hallucinations of writing on the walls. He continued to endorse paranoid delusions about his father and the construction workers.”
     Cantrell was found not guilty of murder due to insanity and was committed to a state-run mental institution, where he remains today.
     The lawsuit claims that Murphy accessed and altered Cantrell’s medical record after learning of his father’s death despite no longer being his treatment provider. He also allegedly told Cantrell’s wife that “it must have been the medicine.”
     “As a direct and proximate consequence of defendants’ malpractice, Daniel Cantrell’s previously stable and high-functioning mental condition deteriorated to a state of insanity and psychosis that resulted in not only the death of his father at Daniel Cantrell’s hands but also Daniel Cantrell’s subsequent and ongoing involuntary commitment to state psychiatric ward,” the lawsuit states.
     A statement from HCA – Murphy’s employer whose network runs Centennial Psychiatric Associates – provided to the Nashville Post says the company disagrees with allegations made in Cantrell’s lawsuit.
     “We work in healthcare because of a common desire to help people, so when things do not happen the way we all wish they would, we feel terrible, but we disagree with the contentions and we are firm in that belief. This is absolutely heartbreaking, but you cannot summarize Daniel’s case, his course of treatment, the clinicians who cared for him and the complexities of his situation by focusing only on the tragic circumstances of his father’s death. Our thoughts and prayers are with Daniel and his family,” reads the statement from HCA’s Jennifer Shain.
     Cantrell seeks compensatory and punitive damages. He is represented by Brian Cummings of Cummings Manookian PLC in Nashville.

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