Las Vegas Sun

January 28, 2015

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Doctor linked to patient deaths suing out of spite, witness says


Steve Marcus

Kevin Buckwalter, the former physician, no longer practices medicine after the state Board of Medical Examiners and the Drug Enforcement Administration last year revoked his licenses to prescribe controlled substances. He had been linked to eight patient deaths.

Dr. Buckwalter, In His Own Words

A Deposition of Dr. Buckwalter.

Sun Topics

A nationally known pain specialist says she’s become the target of intimidation for speaking out against a Henderson doctor who has been linked by authorities to multiple deaths and lost his license to prescribe controlled substances.

Dr. Andrea Trescot, a Jacksonville, Fla., specialist and past president of the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians, said her legal fees to fight a defamation lawsuit filed by Dr. Kevin Buckwalter are at least $20,000.

“I feel this is retaliation and an effort to intimidate a witness,” Trescot said.

After Trescot commented on Buckwalter’s practices in Las Vegas Sun articles in 2008, the Nevada State Board of Medical Examiners and the Drug Enforcement Administration stripped him of his license to prescribe controlled substances, saying at least eight of his patients had died since 2005 from drugs he prescribed.

“Unfortunately, there are a few doctors using their position of trust in our communities to prey on those who are vulnerable to the abuse of these drugs,” Timothy Landrum, a DEA special agent, said at the time.

Buckwalter, a family physician who is not practicing, is contesting the medical board and DEA decisions.

Bryce Buckwalter, the doctor’s brother and attorney, said Trescot should be held accountable for her comments.

“She said defamatory statements, so I’m going to go after her and see what the jury says,” he said.

The Sun was researching a story about Buckwalter’s medical practice and sought experts to review his treatment of patients who claimed they had become addicted to narcotics under his care. The medical records of some patients showed they had overdosed and died from the powerful pills. Others, whose records showed they had been prescribed large quantities of narcotics by Buckwalter, told the Sun the drugs had ruined their lives.

Four pain specialists said in the Sun’s stories Buckwalter’s prescription of the narcotics appeared to be reckless and had no basis in standard medical practice, based on the patient records they reviewed. Trescot and Dr. David Kloth of Danbury, Conn., also a nationally recognized pain specialist, were the only two to speak on the record. Kloth is not being sued by Buckwalter.

In the first story the Sun wrote about Buckwalter, published in September 2008, Trescot, who wrote a guide for prescribing opiates for the American Society of Interventional Pain Physicians, reviewed the records of a Las Vegas businessman who was receiving up to 1,100 narcotic doses a month from Buckwalter. Trescot said the records showed:

• No legitimate medical need for the narcotics.

• Multiple prescriptions at the same time for the same or equivalent medications.

• Quantities of pills “far above” a reasonable amount.

Under Buckwalter’s care, the businessman appears to have become addicted to the medications “either through maliciousness or blatant disregard of the dangers of this class of medicines,” which equates to malpractice or criminal behavior, Trescot said.

For a story the Sun published a month later, Trescot reviewed the records of a 19-year-old OxyContin addict who wrote in her journal that she went to Buckwalter allegedly to get off the drugs. Buckwalter put her on methadone, but stopped prescribing it after she overdosed, medical records show. He later ramped up her narcotics prescriptions, medical records show, including oxycodone, the primary ingredient in OxyContin. She later committed suicide.

Trescot said it was “not conscionable” to give narcotics to a patient who had overdosed on them. “At the very least he needs to have his license pulled now,” she said.

She and Kloth were so alarmed by the records they reviewed, she said, that they wrote a letter to the DEA about Buckwalter.

Trescot offered expert statements in lawsuits filed against Buckwalter on behalf of patients who died or became addicted to pain medications, allegedly because of his treatment.

The Buckwalter brothers filed their lawsuit against Trescot in November 2009 in District Court in Clark County, but it has since been moved to federal court.

Trescot believes she is being sued to discourage her from providing expert trial testimony in the lawsuits that patients, or their loved ones in cases where the patient died, have filed against Buckwalter. There have been settlement discussions, but Trescot said if she settles it could discourage other physicians from speaking out against bad doctors.

“I feel strongly that physicians who are practicing poor medicine are putting patients’ lives at risk and should be brought before the legal authorities,” Trescot said.

Bryce Buckwalter told the Sun that Trescot needs to prove the statements she said about his brother are true. “The only defense against defamation is absolute truth,” he said. “Unless you can prove them with absolute certainty you can be on the hook for defamation.”

But Mitch Langberg, a Los Angeles-based defamation attorney the Sun has used to review its investigative stories, including those about Buckwalter, said Bryce Buckwalter is “absolutely 100 percent wrong.”

Langberg, who typically represents plaintiffs in defamation suits, including Steve Wynn, Martha Stewart and Aretha Franklin, said Buckwalter has the burden of proving Trescot’s statements were false. This will be even more difficult because of the findings of the medical board and DEA, Langberg said. Buckwalter would need to reveal all the facts about each case in question, Langberg said, which he might be reticent to do.

No matter the burden of proof, the case could be expensive for Trescot to defend, Langberg said.

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  1. When asked for "expert" testimony, that is what it is...someone with the expertise to analyze and recommend. Dr. Trescot gave her expert opinion..period. What I want to know is if this serial killer, which is essentially what he is, is going to go to prison and serve his time, pay for his crimes (plural!!) just like others who cause death because of their actions??? I hope she recovers her court costs and attorney's fees and nails this scumbag to the wall. My heartfelt thoughts and prayers go out to the families who lost loved ones. I pray this killer doesn't get away with murder/s! Wonder if greed, once again, had anything to do with his thoughtless and deadly decisions......I can only shake my head.....

  2. My ex-wife's Doctor killed her on the operating table and then brought her back to life. He's still practicing medicine.
    A year after my present wife had her gall bladder removed we found out that her doctor had a patient who died after her gall bladder was removed.

    It was found that her doctor had left arteries open and the patient was for days complaining of pain in the abdomen. The Doctor kept telling the patient that the pain would go away. It did when this patient died. This doctor is still practicing medicine.
    I had a friend who had hurt his back on the job and went to a doctor for help. This Doctor said that surgury was needed. My friend told me that when he went home he looked up this surgeons name on his address bar on his computer. This surgeon had crippled a patient after he performed surgery on her back. He even tried to blame it on his partner who wasn't even at the hospital during surgery. he was charged with a felony. This Doctor is still practicing medicine.
    The sad thing is that there are Doctors out there that should not be practicing medicine. They have not kept their professionalism and kept their hippocratic oath. They should not be rewarded for what they've done.
    Now we must check the background on every Doctor we are to see. Sad situation.

  3. It appears that the Buckwalter brothers just weren't raised right because they both sure turned out to be scum.

    I hope that Dr. Trescot gets all of her attorney fees paid for by Buckwalter and that he and his brother also get slapped around for filing such a frivolous lawsuit.

    @janefromvegas: The doctor is completely to blame in this situation. No one forced him to write an inordinate amount of prescriptions that no responsible physician would write for a person. I'm absolutely shocked that the DEA hasn't charged him like they did with Dr. Yeh for doing the same thing.

  4. What about the doctor linked to the biker bandit? What about him?

    Not prescribing enough pain pills call cause deaths or hardship too.

    As long as the patient is informed of the risks, people should be able to take as many pills as they want, assuming they refrain from any safety sensitive function.

  5. "You are going to go after her?" Maybe you need to have your license to practice law investigated.
    Sounds malicious, and repugnant.
    Yes, life is good over at the Buckwalters... Dead patients, more dead patients,more dead patients, shhh, don't say anything, is that what you think, Mr. Buckwalter?
    Counter sue, I applaud her for raising the issue, and won't let this happen without a fight. YOu want to sue me, Mr. Buckwalter? Your brother should have been reported, I am glad he was reported, and I will back the lady up. Dead patients, more dead patients, and a lawsuit, oh boy. Have a nice day.

  6. > the medical board doesn't take licenses away based on gossip alone

    hell, you've got to get to the level of Desai before they even pay attention. there's got to be a middle ground here, someplace.

  7. Unfortunetley the dr. that graduates at the bottom of his class gets the same degree as the one who graduates at the top of his class.

  8. The story, above, proves why Nevada's anti-SLAPP statute is totally inadequate to protect Nevada's press outlets, let alone people who participate in public discourse about newsworthy events or events which wind up in court or before Nevada's licensing agencies.

    It's ESSENTIAL that The Sun and other Nevada press outlets lobby the Nevada Legislature to "fix" Nevada's anti-SLAPP statute to bring it up to date, in terms of matching protections afforded "free speech" in other states. California's anti-SLAPP statute and its wealth of reported case law on the subject, comes to mind as an example of what Nevada's statute should look like. The Legislature could simply take the California anti-SLAPP statute, retype it, and add a provision saying that the Legislature adopts all California case law construing the breadth of "free speech" protections under the statute which was copied. This issue is so important, Nevada legislators don't need to be embarrassed by fixing the problem in this way.

    Barbara Buckley used to be good at taking "protect the public" laws from other states, marking them up with a red pen to make them even more protective of Nevadans, and then getting them passed in Legislative sessions. Nevada's print press needs to pick up the slack now that Sen. Buckley has retired.

    Get it done members of the Fourth Estate!

  9. The 19 year old girl referenced in this story is my niece. How dear he sue Dr. Trescot what is he thinking ? First he sues the medical board now an expert in the pain management field .He needs to apologize for what he has done to all these families .Does he think he was being a good doctor ? This is far from the truth .Over 8 families have been traumatized by this doctors actions , this is what you call MALPRACTICE .She should stand her ground because she knows she is correct . Dr. Buckwalter you have ruined my life forever , I will never get to see the 19 year old girl that walked into your office that day seeking treatment to GET OFF taking drugs , instead of helping her you gave her over 700 pills in 25 days . Were you not smart enough to see what was happening ? I hope the Judge throws the book at you .

  10. My mother was a person who was treated by her "Doctor" for years who gave her what she wanted. It was not till my parents moved to Nebraska that she finally got the help she needed.

    It included thirty days in drug rehab at the Mayo Clinic and cleaning her up from all the prescription drugs before she finally got healthy. I really hope the Dr is rotting in hell right now.

    And I pray this guy does too.

  11. When doctors act like drug dealers, they should be treated as such.

  12. This "doctor" needs to spend some serious time in the pokey, and his brother may need to be stripped of his license to practice law. He is a poster boy for tort reform. This is outrageous. Even before this story cited the Los Angeles-based defamation attorney who told us "Bryce Buckwalter is 'absolutely 100 percent wrong', " I, as a layman, knew it to be so. The burden of proof in a defamation or libel suit always rests with the plaintiff.

    The attorney/brother also uttered the following: "She (Dr. Trescott) said defamatory statements."
    You don't "say" statements. Toss this case and this lawyer out on his oos, and incarcerate his murderous brother.

  13. Just today another doctor actually was arrested for murder

  14. What about Dr. Buckwalter destroying his records throwing computers in a trash dumpster thats against the law. What was he hiding ? He said he was angry when he sold his practice for less money, he sold his practice the DAY AFTER his license was suspened , if that is not a coincidence or an admission of guilt , I don't know what you call it ?