OZAUKEE COUNTY -- An Ozaukee County judge says a former Milwaukee pain doctor cannot defend himself against claims that he was negligent in the death of a patient. A FOX6 investigation finds the mysterious disappearance of the dead patient's file played a key role in this.
Just days after her son's death from a methadone overdose in 2007, Barbara Schwister asked the doctor for his patient file. A clinic employee told her she would have to talk to the doctor's lawyer first.
Four months later, she got word that her son's medical records were missing. Schwister said, "They were honestly destroyed. They weren't lost. Everyone knows they were destroyed, and they were hiding it."
Dr. Robert Wetzler was already in trouble with the state medical board for poor record keeping in the death of another patient. A FOX6 investigation would eventually connect Wetzler, and other doctors at the Riverwest Clinic to 16 overdose deaths.
That led to an FBI raid of the clinic, a state investigation forced Wetzler to surrender his medical license, and a medical malpractice suit filed by the Schwisters.
Recently, an Ozaukee County judge ruled that Wetzler is responsible for either losing or destroying the Scwister file. This means he is liable for medical malpractice.
However, the damages will most likely be limited to the cost of Jerry's funeral.
The Schwister family is still waiting to find out if criminal charges will ever be filed against Robert Wetzler or any of the other doctors at the Riverwest Clinic.