Psychiatrist who overprescribed medication causing irreversible tardive dyskinesia is being sued by his patient.
Butte psychiatrist, Dr. Bennett Braun, 78, has settled multiple lawsuits for millions of dollars after some of his former patients said he convinced them in therapy that they “had engaged in cannibalism, child abuse, satanic rituals and even consumed meat loaf made of human flesh.” A lawsuit from a Kalispell woman is now alleging the Braun’s improper drug treatment plan for her has left her with incurable physical issues
Braun was previously sued eleven times and never once admitted to any wrongdoing. The claims alleged he “put women into an Illinois psychiatric hospital, put them on high dosages of drugs not always tested on animals and hypnotized them.” The psychiatrist faced disciplinary action in Illinois but was back in good standing after relocating to Montana and starting a practice there.
Ciara Rehbein, 33, went to Braun on referral for anxiety and post-concussive syndrome starting in 2014. She was involved in a motorcycle accident. But Braun subsequently diagnosed her with bipolar 2 disorder, acute stress disorder, panic disorder with agoraphobia, traumatic brain injury (post-concussive syndrome), and alcoholism in remission.
Braun was the only psychiatrist in Butte, according to the Department of Labor and Industry, so she didn’t have much choice in her treatment, and began taking an antipsychotic medication called Geodon, which is known to cause serious and permanent movement disorders. After a while she “began to experience uncontrollable facial movements,” which she reported to the doctor.
“I tried to talk to him about that,” Rehbein said. “He said, ‘That’s just a little dyskinesia.’”
Tardive dyskinesia is a physical disorder characterized by “repetitive, involuntary and purposeless movements and caused by prolonged use of neuroleptic drugs like Geodon.” In response, Braun told her, “We’ll try something else.”
That “something else” was Seroquel, according to the plaintiff’s complaint, another drug known for causing tardive dyskinesia. Rehbein says the facial movements only got worse. “Eventually, tension in her neck kept her from being able to turn her head down,” her complaint says. Now, a year later, Rehbein also has trouble walking and controlling her tongue and torso. By the time she went to a neurologist, Rehbein says she had no reflexes.
“He (her neurologist) was shocked I could stand there with the Seroquel I was being prescribed and Geodon way over what I should’ve been taking,” she said. Rehbein now faces a lifetime of Botox injections in her neck and shoulders to make her muscles move as they should. Her condition is irreversible.
Now, Rehbein is suing Braun in Butte District Court for “negligence, lack of informed consent and failure to warn.” She is seeking punitive damages. Her complaint also contends that Braun overprescribed medications to his patients. “Braun prescribed 29% of his patients controlled substances with a high potential for abuse in 2013 compared to an average of 9% for the norm,” according to court documents.
Rehbein will have tardive dyskinesia for the rest of her life and saays she can’t work with her condition and has trouble leaving the house. She still struggles with anxiety and says she has both memory problems and concentration issues.
“I wish I could get back to how I was,” she says.