Grand Jury indicts local physician

A man found dead in his car of a methadone overdose in a Fritz’s Pharmacy parking lot a year ago has lead to a misdemeanor charge of involuntary manslaughter for his physician.

Leslie Abigail Winters, a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine from Ronceverte, was also subsequently denied her license renewal to practice medicine by the West Virginia Board of Osteopathic Medicine. According to the West Virginia Daily News, Winters’ license renewal denial order details the incident leading to the man’s death.

On the day before the man’s death he had presented himself at Greenbrier Valley Medical Center where an emergency room physician diagnosed the man’s complaints of back pain as being acute pancreatitis and gave the patient an intravenous line (IV) of anti-nausea and pain medication.

The attending physician contacted Winters and agreed that the man needed to be admitted to the hospital. During this time the man fled the hospital and migrated to Winters’ nearby office. Without examining the man and finding the IV. Winters prescribed 10 to 12 tablets of methadone and instructed him to return to the hospital. Apparently, the man instead went to Fritz’s Pharmacy and filled his prescription for the methadone, which he ingested via his IV, resulting in his death.

Although the narcotic methadone is generally used for treating withdrawals from heroin addiction, it is also used as a treatment for pain.

Winters is a 1998 graduate of the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine. Winters faces a maximum sentence of one year in jail and a $1,000 fine if convicted of the manslaughter charge.

Greenbrier County Prosecutor Patrick Via says. “Although this was only charged as a misdemeanor, this is a very important case. A felony charge would have needed to show there was intent upon causing this victim’s death.”


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