DRUG DEATHS: Witnesses Called In Doctor’s Trial

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The first trial of its kind in Iowa got underway Wednesday morning in Polk County with opening statements.

Dr. Daniel Baldi is charged with nine counts of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the drug-related deaths of former patients. It is the first time an Iowa doctor has been charged with manslaughter in connection with the death of a patient.

The prosecution says Baldi gave patients what they wanted, not what they needed. They say he ignored the red flags such as patients saying they lost medication and patients abusing their pain contracts and coming into the office on high levels of narcotics.

"He gave patients what they wanted and that was highly, highly reckless for him to do, he gave them what they wanted and as a result of his actions and his staff's actions these nine people are now dead," assistant Polk County attorney Celene Gogerty said.

But the defense claims the patients died from either natural causes or from abusing drugs that were not prescribed by Dr. Baldi. They say in some cases Dr. Baldi didn’t even see the patients for months prior to their death and when he did prescribe medication it was at or below FDA standards.

"These were people with chronic pain, complicated medical issues, multiple medical issues and some with addictions,” Baldi's defense attorney Guy Cook said.

"He did his best to treat these patents and the evidence will show that the prescriptions he provided to these nine patients were at or below the prescribed therapeutic levels that any doctor would prescribe."

The first witness, Corinne Johnson, widow of Jeffery Johnson, says her husband was prescribed fentanyl patches from Dr. Baldi. Patches she said caused lots of side effects.

"He appeared to be in a daze, unfocused, trouble remembering certain basic events," Johnson testified.

At the time of Johnson’s death he was wearing two fentanyl patches, one more than the prescribed amount.

The defense says that prescription did not come from Dr. Baldi.

"Since he passed in May of 2012, three, four, months after you had seen Dr. Baldi, maybe five months, the prescription he had for that fentanyl was not from Dr Baldi was it?” Cook asked.

“No it was not," came Johnson’s reply.

Five more witnesses were called to testify including significant others of several of the deceased patients as well as a couple of first responders who helped set the scene for the jury.

Thursday, the prosecution will continue to call more witnesses to the stand when the trial resumes at 9 a.m.


  • William Denison

    What does murdering people have to do with spelling. As the old saying goes” Don’t shot the messenger”. .So what pharmaceutical company do you work for?

    • no one proof reads anymore

      and one more thing, William Denison, since you wanted to jump on my back so quickly….
      IF you read the article, he is accused of involuntary manslaughter, NOT murder. IF he is responsible for these people’s deaths, it is due to his negligence, NOT due to intent. There is a difference between murder and involuntary manslaughter.

      And, as far as spelling goes, in this article, it was sort of a big deal that they got the name wrong. It could be considered slanderous if you are printing an article saying that someone is being charged with manslaughter when they are not.

      • William Denison

        Bottom line is whoever Dr. Daniel Baldi is to you, you may want to pick him up some medical soap on a rope. :)

  • no one proof reads any more.

    uhh….I don’t work for ANY drug company.
    And, this doctor is innocent until proven guilty, the trial isn’t over yet. That’s the way things work in the United States.

    I think I made it pretty evident in my post that I wasn’t attacking this reporter, or this story. I just think it is sad that there is so little pride in actually reporting things factually and well written.

    I also don’t see where ‘Don’t shot the messenger’ fits in. I didn’t attack the reporter saying that she was wrong and this guy was innocent, I simply pointed out the large number of errors that seem to show up in journalism in general today.

    You must be the most lonely, pathetic old man in history. You post to almost every article put out on WHO. Your posts quite often have nothing to do with the article (and yet you attack me for my post). Quite often you are making a political statement, or advocating smoking pot. Your posts are consistently rude and negative. You make rash assumptions about other posters. (such as that I work for a drug company).

    Get a life, William Denison!

    • no one proof reads anymore

      and that means what exactly?? Short posts aren’t valuable if they don’t make any sense.

  • no one proof reads anymore

    Baldi is no one to me. Neither is Dr. Daniel Daldi. it would just be nice to see things reported accurately.

  • BLT

    Near as I can tell, from what I have read in paper, it appears he is innocent. Patients died from polypharmacy of drugs not even prescribed by him.

    Another witch hunt by our fine justice department/government gone wild.

  • Sarah

    This case hurts both Physicians and persons with chronic pain. Doctors have become so paranoid regarding prescribing pain medication, the oath they took has become moot….FIRST DO NO HARM..patients with severe pain are finding it difficult to continue their treatment as Doctors are leery about prescribing narcotics, even in pain clinics. Not only does the patient have to deal with the physical pain; now they must endure extensive paperwork, psych evaluations, drug testing, etc; and even when all of the Physician ordered tests come back negative, and the patient has not increased their medication nor changed their medication for five plus years….the Physician STILL works to either decrease their meds or change medication to something else. Please, people, consider the patient. I am that patient. Since 1993, I have had a right knee tibia transplant, 7 open knee surgeries, and 2 knee arthroscopy and finally a knee replacement. My poor little right knee has gone through so much and after 11 right knee surgeries, I am left with constant pain, numbness, temperature changes and limited mobility. For over 12 years I had to use crutches and then graduated to a cane at age 39, but, since the replacement, I can walk unassisted TO A DEGREE, no long walks or driving, but so thankful for some independence .I have only DECREASED my medication over the years from 3 different meds to, today just one medication and for the last 10 years I have passed all drug tests, all required ordered tests by pain clinic, and have remained on SAME dosage…NEVER increasing it or seeking scripts from any Physician other than my Pain Clinic health care provider, YET, he is now making me DECREASE my dosage and its been HELL! Just at the time my husband is retired and we hope to travel and visit our children and grandchildren, we have to plan every hour of every day as the limited medication has decreased our quality of life. Everything is now dependent on how much medication I have left and how much I will be short, due to dosage change. I feel as though I am being treated almost cruely due to some patients abusing their medication. Please, look at BOTH sides of PAIN and the treatment.

  • Sally

    Oh, Sarah, you poor thing! I feel so bad for you! Yes, there is definitely a second side to this story. I hope you can find something that will help with your pain, maybe some homeopathic product. I’m sure you have tried everything. Wishing you and your family all the best!

    • Sarah Schminke

      Thank you Sally. It has been quite difficult lately but hopefully my physician and I can work out a solution. As to your query regarding homeopathic remedies; indeed yes I have tried these various remedies and also physical therapy also a tens unit also a nerve block….nothing worked, but ALWAYS worth trying anything to help alleviate the pain. I appreciate your compassion.

      • Sally

        I hope you don’t mind, Sarah, but, my prayers are with you that you find a safe, effective method to control your pain and enjoy your life!

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