2008-07-04 / Front Page

Doc's 'Scribbles' Focus Of Lawsuit

By Howard Schwach

A Rockaway doctor's sloppy handwriting put a Bayswater man's health at risk when he was given the incorrect medication for several months, a lawsuit filed in Queens Supreme Court alleges.

Jeffrey Deutchman, 55, received lithium carbonate, a drug typically used to treat manic depression, rather than lanthanum carbonate for his kidney failure, court records allege.

As a result, Deutchman was in renal failure and had to have both a kidney and a leg removed.

Deutchman and his wife, Deborah, are now suing both the doctor who wrote the prescription, Dr. Heino Anto, who practices in Far Rockaway and is an attending physician with privileges at several local hospitals, and Express-Scripts, the pharmaceutical giant that provided the medication.

According to Eric Hack, Deutchman's attorney, Anto wrote the original prescription for the kidney drug in March of 2005.

The prescription was sent to Express- Scripts, which is the pharmacy agent for the great majority of New York City workers and their families.

The mail order pharmacy, which the city's insurance carriers require the workers to use, allegedly could not read the writing on the prescription and faxed it back to the doctor for clarification.

Hack said that Anto simply rewrote the prescription and sent it back to the pharmacy.

"There was no communication between the doctor and the pharmacy, even though they could not read the first prescription," Hack said. "They never talked to each other."

Hack maintains that the pharmacy knew of Deutchman's kidney problems and should have questioned the prescription of an anti-depressant.

"If you went into Rite-Aid, where you had been getting medication for a kidney problem, they would have questioned the prescription for an antidepressant," Hack said. "Express- Scripts did not live up to expected standards."

There is a question as to whether the doctor, when confronted with his illegible prescription, sent in another just as illegible or whether Express-Scripts misinterpreted the doctor's correct prescription.

Hack hopes that the discovery process will answer that question.

In any case, the incorrect prescription was renewed five times before the mistake was caught, sources say. In all, Deutchman reportedly took the wrong drug for nine months.

He originally filed his suit in state court, he says, but Express-Scripts, a St. Louis (Missouri) corporation, successfully moved it into federal court.

Now, he says, there is some question of bringing Dr. Anto into the federal suit, since both the doctor and Deutchman live in New York.

Hack has made a motion in federal court to bring the suit back into state jurisdiction, where he says it belongs.

Meanwhile, a source close to the family says that Deutchman is doing as well as could be expected and is waiting for some justice from his suit.

Both Express-Scripts and Dr. Anto declined comment on the case.

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