Don Stegman went under surgery in the fall of 2007 for a bone marrow transplant. But after developing Graft-Versus-Host disease, the life of him and his wife would change forever. Although the surgery seemed to be a success, Don developed GVHD, an illness that primarily affects bone marrow transplant recipients. Doctors attempted to treat the affliction by prescribing him prednisone, a drug with known negative mental health side-effects. Initially the medication helped the inflammation caused by the disease, but more serious problems started to develop.
It all started when Don became increasingly paranoid and started to lose touch with reality. Don’s wife Jill, worried at the deterioration of his mental health and took him to the hospital where doctors prescribed him various anti-psychotic drugs. His paranoia and psychosis subsided for the time being but his issues with GVHD persisted, requiring increased doses of prednisone. But in 2013, doctors increased his dosages for prednisone dramatically. This lead to Don becoming manic, aggressive, and violent towards Jill. Completely out of character, Jill knew there was something wrong with her husband. She begged doctors to prescribe him more anti-psychotics or get him psychiatric treatment, but they refused. In spite of the fact he had been aggressive for weeks on high doses of prednisone Don’s two doctors who were treating him just said they would lower his dose and assured Jill that he would be fine, and at first he was.
Don calmed down from his aggression but he then sank into a deep depression. Jill decided on her own to seek the care of a psychiatrist and Don agreed. Jill left a message with one of Don’s doctors saying that Don was depressed and that she was seeking help. The doctor, who lived 200 miles away, didn’t offer to contact a doctor or give any specific advice about how to manage someone in crisis experiencing severe depression. Jill was on her own to deal with Don’s severe psychiatric condition. In a prolonged search for a mental health professional, Don left without telling his wife where he was going. She called the police to search for him but it was too late, Don had taken his own life.
After the loss of her husband, Jill attempted to get justice. After struggling to find a lawyer she eventually found one but even he had to drop the case after they ran headlong into the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act, which puts an arbitrary limit on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits. Because of this outdated law, she was unable to get justice for her husband.