Judge denies motion to dismiss manslaughter counts against doctor charged in painkiller overdose deaths

by Eric Pearson

An Iowa judge has denied a defense request to dismiss involuntary manslaughter charges against a Des Moines doctor linked to the improper prescription of several opioid painkillers, including fentanyl, morphine, and hydrocodone. Dr. Daniel Baldi is accused of failing to properly treat 10 patients who later died of an overdose, including a prominent heavy metal musician.

According to the Polk County district attorney, Dr. Baldi prescribed dangerous amounts of opioid painkillers and other drugs to his patients, including the 10 who later died from overdose, despite clear signs of drug-seeking behavior on their part. Dr. Baldi’s failure to properly monitor the prescription medications used by his patients was a direct cause of their deaths, the DA argued.

One of the 10 patients who died while being treated by Dr. Baldi was Paul Gray, the bassist with the heavy metal group Slipknot, who died in 2010 of a combined fentanyl and morphine overdose. Although Dr. Baldi is not accused of prescribing the medications which resulted in Gray’s overdose, prosecutors argue that the doctor’s failure to address clear signs of drug-seeking behavior from the musician played a direct role in his death.

Judge Gregory Brandt, who is overseeing the case against Dr. Baldi, noted in his ruling that the case is the first in Iowa—and one of the first nationwide—in which a doctor has been charged with involuntary manslaughter for overprescribing prescription painkillers or other medications to their patients.

Prescription Painkiller Overdoses and Medical Malpractice

When doctors overprescribe prescription painkillers to their patients, the results can be deadly. As the case against Dr. Baldi shows, the improper prescription of pain medications can place patients at risk of addiction and dependence. In other cases, doctors may prescribe opioid medications that are too powerful or in combination with other drugs that decrease the activity of the central nervous system, increasing the risk of an overdose.

Despite warnings from the Food and Drug Administration about the danger of opioid painkillers such as hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine, fentanyl, and methadone, doctors continue to prescribe these drugs in ways that put the health and the lives of their patients at risk. Prescription drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S., killing tens of thousands of patients each year.

If you or a loved one were the victim of a prescription painkiller overdose, the doctor or hospital who prescribed these medications may be to blame. Patients whose lives have been affected by a painkiller overdose, addiction, or other complications caused by the reckless prescription of these drugs by a physician may be eligible to file a lawsuit and seek compensation for their injuries.

The lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson have represented hundreds of patients who have been harmed by opioid painkillers or other dangerous prescription drugs. Our attorneys have tried hundreds of cases to verdict, achieving verdicts and settlements for our clients totaling more than $200 million—including more than $50 million in 2010 alone.

For a free legal consultation and to find out if you are eligible to file a lawsuit, contact our law firm by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001. You can also reach us by filling out the free case evaluation form located on this page.

by Eric Pearson

Eric Pearson is a licensed attorney and a partner at HO&P who handles commercial and personal injury lawsuits. Eric has been selected to the Super Lawyers List, a Thomson Reuters publication.