Zealously over or under?

LAST spring two parents in a seaside village in Massachusetts were convicted of murdering their four-year-old daughter by administering a lethal combination of a high dose of clonidine and an antihistamine.1,2

The little girl, Rebecca Riley, had been diagnosed with bipolar disorder at the age of two, and along with clonidine, she’d also been taking the antipsychotic quetiapine and the mood stabiliser divalproex sodium (not available in Australia).

But as details of the case emerged, it wasn’t just the actions of the girl’s parents that had people concerned.

Earlier this year the psychiatrist who made the diagnosis and prescribed the medications settled a medical malpractice case for $2.5 million, which will go to the girl’s two siblings, who had also been diagnosed with bipolar disorder.3

Court testimony portrayed the psychiatrist as having been duped into a diagnosis of bipolar disorder by cunning