Trump's Doctor Accused Of 'Overmedicating' Patients In Malpractice Lawsuits

By McCarton Ackerman 08/31/16

In two settled malpractice lawsuits, Dr. Harold Bornstein was accused of grossly overmedicating two patients who died in his care. 

Trump's Doctor Accused Of 'Overmedicating' Patients In Malpractice Lawsuits
Dr. Harold Bornstein Photo via YouTube

Donald Trump has publicly shared plenty of concerns about Hillary Clinton’s health, but now the Republican presidential candidate's own doctor is creating headlines for his reported extreme lack of care towards several of his patients.

The Daily Beast reported this week that Trump’s gastroenterologist, Dr. Harold Bornstein, has settled three malpractice lawsuits against him since 1992—and that two of the lawsuits accused Dr. Bornstein of grossly overmedicating two patients who died in his care. However, both of those cases were settled before going to trial and there was no finding of liability against Bornstein.

Still, one of the families in these lawsuits insists that Bornstein contributed to an untimely death. Kenneth Levin (who has since passed away) claimed in his suit 17 years ago that the doctor “was negligent, careless, and unskilled” in treating his wife, Janet Levin. He also alleged that Bornstein did wrong in failing “to make a referral to a mental health professional; in wrongfully prescribing tuinal, morphine, and valium, particularly in light of the history of drinking; in improperly and negligently seeing the patient without providing treatment; and in overmedicating the decedent.”

Kenneth claimed that despite seeing Janet “several times a week,” Bornstein did little more than provide Valium and Tuinal (a sedative) “greatly in excess of appropriate dosages.” Janet was admitted to the hospital for a drug overdose in 1997 and the following year, she reportedly “suffered a fall” and died. The lawsuit accused Bornstein of ignoring “the signs and symptoms of a habitual addiction which he created or helped to create,” and failing to take responsibility for it.

“He prescribed for her medication disproportionate for her physical weight and she ended up falling and dying,” said a family member to The Daily Beast. “I’m not saying it is because of him, but he contributed to her death.” Intoxicated falls are among the common symptoms of the drugs Bornstein prescribed to Janet, which included barbiturates, opiates and tranquilizers.

The New York Daily News previously reported that Bornstein settled in June 2006 for an undisclosed amount with the family of 57-year-old Vincent Pollifrone, who died under the doctor's care during a colonoscopy in 2000. His wife, Lorraine, said in the lawsuit that he was “improperly medicated” during the procedure.

Questions of Bornstein’s competency arose after he released a statement touting Trump’s “extraordinary” physical strength and stamina, in addition to declaring that the candidate would be “the healthiest individual ever elected to the presidency.” Although Bornstein has since admitted regretting his choice of words, medical professionals were quick to slam him.

“It just isn’t done. It’s unprofessional, unethical, and violates basic common sense,” said Arthur Caplan, founding director of the Division of Medical Ethics at NYU Langone Medical Center. “A gastroenterologist should not be offering an assessment of Trump’s overall health.”

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.