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Don Stegman

Don Stegman

In 2007, Don underwent surgery for a bone marrow transplant that resulted in his contraction of graft-versus-host disease (GVHD). Doctors attempted to treat it with prednisone, a medication with known negative psychiatric effects. The medication initially reduced inflammation, as it was meant to, but later caused Don serious mental health problems.

Don became increasingly paranoid and began to lose touch with reality. His wife, Jill, worried about the deterioration of his mental health and took him to the hospital. After receiving various anti-psychotic drugs, his symptoms subsided. 

However, the GVHD persisted, so doctors increased his doses of prednisone. The larger dosage caused Don to become manic, aggressive, and even violent. Jill recognized these side effects and pleaded for psychiatric treatment for Don. Her requests were ignored, and his doctors said that they would merely lower his prednisone dose. They assured Jill that he would be fine.

Don slipped into a deep depression. Jill told Don’s doctors that she was looking for a psychiatrist for Don, and they offered no referral or advice. One day, Don left the house without saying where he was going. Jill called the police when she realized he had left, but it was too late. Don died by suicide. 

After the loss of her husband, Jill sought justice. She found a lawyer who was interested in taking her case, but then had to drop it after learning about the MICRA cap. This outdated law prevents Jill from holding Don’s doctors accountable and improving treatment for patients in need of psychiatric care.