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LAWSUIT BLAMES SCIENTIST'S SUICIDE ON PSYCHIATRIST.

Byline: TOM SHARPE

The widow of a former Los Alamos physicist who took an overdose of sleeping pills blames the death on the Santa Fe psychiatrist who treated him, according to a recent lawsuit.

Stanford P. Lyon was pronounced dead on March 7, 2007, two days after he was found unconscious with an empty bottle of Ambien nearby, according to the complaint filed in state District Court Wednesday on behalf of Patricia C. Lyon.

According to the wrongful-death complaint, psychiatrist Will L. MacHendrie began treating Stanford Lyon for depression and bipolar disorder after he took an overdose of Elavil and Triavil and slashed his wrists in early 1986. Lyon was institutionalized twice in 1998, it says.

In early 2007, Stanford "Lyon began to suffer increased anxiety, insomnia, depression and pessimism," the complaint says. It says he saw MacHendrie four times that February to say he was "terrified," unable to sleep and his concentration was "fragmented."

MacHendrie prescribed Ambien, Zyprexa, Symbyax, Cymbalta, Willbutrin and Exelon, the complaint says, but Stanford Lyon told MacHendrie "he desperately wanted to be placed back on Elavil for treatment of his depression."

On Feb. 28, 2007, Stanford Lyon called MacHendrie to say he was having anxiety, insomnia and "burning hands," the complaint says. Over the next few days, it says, Lyon's panic attack continued, and on March 4, 2007, according to MacHendrie's notes, he spent 20 minutes explaining to Lyon how to use the sleeping medications.

The next day, Patricia Lyon found her husband unconscious and without a pulse. The cause of death was determined to be multiple drug toxicity, resulting from a lethal overdose of Ambien and excessive amounts of Elavil, the complaint says.

The complaint says MacHendrie failed to properly assess Stanford Lyon's condition, to recognize he was a suicide risk, to conduct a suicide assessment, to control his intake of medications, to recognize the dangers of the medications, to have him hospitalized and to warn Patricia Lyon about the medications her husband was taking. This means MacHendrie breached his duties and was negligent, "proximately causing Mr. Lyon's death," it says.

Stanford Lyon, who was in his late 60s, was a physicist who worked in weapons design and materials science for Los Alamos National Laboratory, according to online records.

MacHendrie did not respond to a message seeking comment Friday. Santa Fe lawyers Mark Ish and William Winter, who filed the complaint on behalf of Patricia Lyon, seeking unspecified compensatory damages, funeral and burial expenses, also were unavailable for comment.

Contact Tom Sharpe at 986-3080 or tsharpe@sfnewmexican.com.

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Title Annotation:Local News
Publication:The Santa Fe New Mexican (Santa Fe, NM)
Date:Oct 18, 2008
Words:436
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