Doctor pleads no contest in patient death

By Sarah Mansheim
A Ronceverte doctor has pled no contest to an involuntary manslaughter charge.
On Monday, Leslie Abigail Winters, an osteopathic physician, entered the plea in Greenbrier County Circuit Court. Winters was indicted in February 2014 for the misdemeanor charge after a grand jury found her legally liable for the death of her patient, Marcus Steven Vaughn, on Feb. 25, 2013. The patient was found dead in a vehicle in the parking lot of Fritz’s Pharmacy.
Vaughn reportedly had been treated at Greenbrier Valley Medical Center on Feb. 24, 2013, for complaints of back and abdominal pain, nausea and vomiting. He was diagnosed with acute pancreatitis and given an intravenous line (IV) of anti-nausea and pain medication. After voluntarily leaving the hospital, with the IV port in his arm, the patient walked to Winters’ office, where she allegedly prescribed him methadone 10-12 tablets and advised him to return to the hospital. Instead, the patient went to the pharmacy and filled his prescription for the methadone, which he ingested via his IV, resulting in his death.
The indictment said that Winters was aware that Vaughn was “an abuser of controlled substances,” and that Winters acted with “reckless disregard for human life and the safety of others” when she gave Vaughn the methadone prescription. The indictment stated that Winters was aware that Vaughn had “eloped” from the hospital previous to coming to her office.
Under the terms of the no contest plea agreement, Winters will voluntarily and permanently surrender her medical license and will perform 400 hours of community service over the next 12 months, in addition to being under supervised probation.
Greenbrier County Circuit Judge Robert Richardson warned Winters that any violation of the plea agreement could result in a revocation of the plea deal, and she could be incarcerated in a regional jail for up to 20 years.