Saturday, April 15, 2006

Online article answers question: Whatever happened to the guy who killed Barbara Lofrumento?

The Sad Juncture of 2 Troubled Lives;For Second Time, Focus Is on a Doctor After a Patient's Death - New York Times

An archived article dated July 18, 1996:
Their lives overlapped for only a few weeks. She was a spirited but troubled girl who at 17 was in the Westchester County Jail for attempted robbery and assault. He was a 75-year-old psychiatrist who had managed to put behind him his own macabre criminal history and was working uneventfully, treating inmates at the county jail.

On the night of May 17, after about a month behind bars, the girl, Nancy Blumenthal, was found hanging from a bedsheet in her cell. According to a report commissioned by county health officials, her suicide took place after the psychiatrist, Dr. Harvey Lothringer, discontinued the antidepressant medication that Nancy had been taking for more than a year.

The article goes on to reveal details I'd not known about the death of Barbara Lofrumento. So I have work to do tomorrow.

Interesting point: Lothringer tried with no success to get his license back until after Roe. His request was granted on October 17, 1973. "State officials said that records explaining why Dr. Lothringer's license was restored were in archives and not readily available."

The article also notes that when Lothringer applied for the prison job, he did disclose his prior conviction. Also, "Dr. Lothringer had come highly recommended by his peers in psychiatry."

Is this related to the fact that headshrinkers tend to favor abortion, and Lothringer had won their respect by being an abortionist? Or had Lothringer turned out to be a better shrink than he was an abortionist?

The article also tells more of the circumstances of Nancy Blumenthal's death:
Nancy was arraigned on April 17, accused of having threatened her mother with a kitchen knife. Dr. Rapoport's report states that she was angry because her mother refused to provide bail money for Nancy's boyfriend, who was also her co-defendant on two pending robbery charges. Nancy had been free on a bond posted by her parents.

Dr. Lothringer first saw Nancy on April 18, the day after she was incarcerated. By that time, according to the report, a corrections officer had noted that she was considered a suicide risk, that she was taking antidepressants, that she had already attempted suicide and that she showed signs of depression.

According to the report, Dr. Lothringer told investigators that he had evaluated Nancy for about 15 to 20 minutes, while she sat on her bed in her cell and he stood at the doorway. Dr. Lothringer's written notes indicate that Nancy said she believed her medication, Zoloft, made her violent. He diagnosed "a serious personality disorder, paranoid and mixed," and ordered that the drug be discontinued.


Over the next few weeks, Wendy Blumenthal became increasingly concerned about her daughter's unstable condition. The report says that she made repeated efforts to reach prison officials for an explanation of why her daughter was no longer getting the medication and to express her concern that Nancy was suicidal.

Lothringer defended his decision to discontinue Nancy's mediation, saying she had made the request (Does that sound like a familiar theme?), and "We couldn't therefore force her to take it."

Lots of MH patients ask to be taken off their meds, but continue to take them on doctors' orders.

So. Do we give Lothringer a pass on Nancy's death? His excuse sounds lame, considering how many other antidepressants he could have prescribed for Nancy in the month between discontinuing the Zoloft and her suicide.

Myself, I'm inclined to blame him. Not that Nancy's family will gain any comfort from that.

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