Georgia Psychiatrist Sued For Medical Malpractice After Patient Kills Mother

A Georgia psychiatrist was sued after one of his seriously ill patients killed his mother after he stopped taking some medications. The father of a mentally ill man charged with killing his mother while in a psychotic rage has filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against his son's psychiatrist, alleging that poor treatment led to his wife's murder, according to The Associated Press.

The lawsuit claims that Victor Bruscato was assigned to Dr. Derek Johnson O'Brien's community health center for psychiatric counseling in 2001. Bruscato was prescribed anti-psychotic drugs to help manage his violent behavior and sexual impulses, the AP reports.

However, court records state that in 2002 O'Brien ordered Bruscato to hold off on two of his powerful medications to rule out whether he was developing a "dangerous syndrome." Afterwards, Bruscato began having nightmares and insisting that Satan was ordering him to do bad things. In August 2002, police said he hit his mother, Lillian Lynn Bruscato, in the head with a battery charger before stabbing her 72 times.

His father, Vito Bruscato, sued O'Brien for medical malpractice, claiming his negligence caused his son to become psychotic and murder his mother. Although O'Brien argued the Bruscato family should not be allowed to bring a lawsuit against him due to longstanding restrictions that prevent families in potential crimes from profiting from illegal conduct – and even had a judge rule in his favor – a divided appeals court reversed the decision. The case is now being heard by the Georgia Supreme Court.

Although O'Brien's attorney argues the Bruscato family should not be able to legally blame his client for Lillian Bruscato's death due to 150 years of public policy and case law, Bruscato's attorney countered that "fundamental fairness" requires the court to allow the case to proceed, the media outlet reports.

Victor Bruscato was found incompetent to stand trial and was committed to a state mental institution.

Psychotic disorders such as schizophrenia can alter a person's ability to think clearly, make good judgments, respond emotionally or understand reality, among other symptoms, according to Web MD. Hallucinations and delusions are common among those with the disorder, as well as strange or dangerous behavior, loss of interest in activities and a loss of interest in personal hygiene.

Psychosis is typically treated through a combination of medications and psychotherapy, although recovery varies from person to person.