Opiate deaths
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Carol Ann Bosley died from a prescription opiate drug overdose while under the care of Lifetree Pain Management run by Dr. Lynn Webster, a local pain management specialist ("Investigations raise debate about doctors, pain pill deaths," Tribune, March 1).

In "Doctor owed an apology" (Forum, March 7), Dr. Arnie Finkleman defended Webster as an "extraordinarily ethical and conscientious physician."

As a member of the legal profession, I have handled a number of prescription drug overdose cases. In the three Lifetree patient cases I have handled, the following scenario occurred:

The patient came to Lifetree with a baseline dosage of 30-50 milligrams of opiate medication per day. After a few months at Lifetree, the dosage was increased dramatically, for no apparent reason. Some patients got more than 400 milligrams of opiates from Lifetree.

The three patients then became addicted and demanded even more medication. Lifetree complied.

After a few "near misses," the patients were eventually found dead in the family home of an accidental overdose. Lifetree blamed the patient.

The problem is not what Webster says. The problem is what his clinic does.

G. Eric Nielson

Salt Lake City