State suspends aspiring "Dr. Death" psychiatrist Stuart Weisberg

June 29, 2010

Stuart Weisberg, MD, who ran a solo psychiatry practice in Northwest Portland and planned to open an assisted suicide clinic in Sellwood, had his medical license suspended on June 24 for unrelated violations, including questionable prescribing practices.

Weisberg said his assisted suicide business was inspired by Jack Kevorkian, a pathologist and euthanasia advocate known as “Dr. Death.”

The Oregon Medical Board issued an Order of Emergency Suspension after the 38-year-old doctor violated the terms of a previous disciplinary order. Weisberg was already on probation and had agreed to meet with a practice mentor twice a week for discussion and chart review. However, earlier this month, Weisberg told the board that he would no longer meet with his mentor, who “no longer supported his ideas pertaining to practice.”

The board found Weisberg in violation of their Corrective Action Order, and added two additional cases to the evidence against him. In one case, Weisberg’s treatment of a patient with depression included Ketamine, a drug in the same class as PCP that is sometimes called “Special K.” In the second case, Weisberg signed a medical marijuana card for a patient with bipolar disorder and a history of substance abuse.

The Oregon Medical Board found that Weisberg’s continued practice would pose an immediate danger to the public and his patients, and directed him to stop practicing medicine immediately.

Weisberg recently began promoting his assisted suicide venture, “Dignity House,” a location where people with terminal illnesses could end their lives in accordance with Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act, approved in 1997.

Weisberg says he acquired the skills necessary to induce death by treating opiate addicts. His “End of Life Consultants” website details the effects of a fatal overdose, up to and including a “gurgle and a death rattle.” The menu of services includes the following:

  • Weisberg’s personal presence at the death, along with his therapy dog: $1,200
  • Camera service for a “tasteful, professionally-edited video”: $600
  • Catering for breakfast, lunch and dinner: $400
  • Media relations (8 hours with a personal assistant/beautician): $400
  • Linens and flowers “lovingly” picked from Weisberg’s garden: $400

Oregon’s assisted suicide law requires two doctors to evaluate the patient for depression or signs of psychological impairment that would affect their decision-making capability. The only other states that allow assisted suicide, Washington and Montana, also exclude people whose decisions may be influenced by mental illness.

In Switzerland, however, assisted suicide has been available to persons with mental illness since 2007. The Swiss law was changed after a man with bipolar disorder petitioned the court for the right to end his life, and the court agreed that a lethal dose of medication was appropriate.

Source: Jenny Westberg, "Portland psychiatrist and self-styled “Dr. Death” receives license suspension," Portland Mental Health Examiner, June 27, 2010.

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