Mark David Truskie died suddenly at the young age of 46 from a combination and dosage level of prescription medications that caused toxicity and heart arrhythmia. A jury returned a verdict that Dr. Grace Huang and the Staunton Clinic overprescribed two medications despite FDA warnings to the contrary. His death could and should have ben prevented had he received proper care and treatment.
Mark was a wonderful and caring person. He was friendly and outgoing. He loved family and friends. He was also very proud and he did not want anyone to know he was suffering from a mental illness - and few did. Many did not learn about his mental illness until after his death. Mark never complained about his illness or his treatments. He just accepted it, and moved on, graduating from college with an associate’s degree in business and a bachelor’s degree in organizational leadership.
For more information on Mark’s life, read the inspirational story of his life in Dr. Truskie’s article, “My Son’s Faith-Filled Journey with Mental Illness”, The Word Among Us, November 2015 edition.
The Truskie family has been devastated by this tragic loss and decided to create the Mark D. Truskie Foundation in hopes that others will not suffer that same fate as Mark.
Mark was a perfect patient. He never smoked, drank alcohol, nor took street drugs. He followed his health providers’ instructions, to the letter. And yet he suffered and died. Mark suffered a series of setbacks throughout his life because of miss-steps committed by his mental health providers. These miss-steps resulted in Mark suffering relapses and worsening conditions - and eventual death. These miss-steps should never have happened.
Here are critical miss-steps of Mark Truskie’s treatment history that contributed to the worsening of his mental and physical health conditions, and which eventually led to his untimely death:
Psychiatrist One- High school to college, bad advice
When Mark was finishing his senior year in high school, his parents noticed he was falling back in his grades, and losing interest in physical activities. They wrongfully thought he was just getting lazy. At the end of his senior year, they took him to be evaluated by a local psychiatrist. They were concerned about sending him to college in his condition. The psychiatrist said it would be OK. That was a huge mistake. The anxiety associated with starting college, and moving away from home worsened his condition to the point where he was much worse than when he left for college. Mark had to withdraw before finishing his first year.
Psychiatrist Two – Two years after HS, misdiagnosis
Mark’s parents were referred to a psychiatrist who was supposedly well known for diagnosing and treating mental illness. This psychiatrist mistakenly diagnosed Mark was bipolar and prescribed Lithium. After a few weeks on Lithium, Marks’ conditioned worsened to the point where he had to be hospitalized for one week in a psychiatric hospital.
Psychiatrist Three – After being stabilized for 12 years, an ill-advised medication change
Finally, after many years on different medications, Mark was prescribed Clozapine (Cloziral). He responded well. All his positive and negative symptoms diminished dramatically. He was now able to attend college, work, and enjoy life. Unfortunately, one of the side effects of this medication is weight gain. Mark complained to his psychiatrist about it, and instead of referring him to a nutritional counselor, the psychiatrist changed medications that resulted in a serious relapse that was a major setback for Mark.
Psychiatrist Four – Lethal combination of prescription medications at high-dosage levels.
Mark was prescribed multiple medications at dangerously high dosage levels. The combination and dosage levels led to lethal toxicity and heart arrhythmia which caused his death. There were warning signs, including an FDA warning about one of the medications he was taking that advised against prescribing the drug over a certain dosage. The treating psychiatrist prescribed double the dosage, ignoring the warning signs and did not have Mark take an EKG which would have revealed his heart arrhythmia. Plus, the psychiatrist never warned Mark, nor his family of the threat of death by taking the medication at the dosage level prescribed.
Had the Truskie family known what they know today, Mark Truskie would be alive. They struggled through trial and error, learning the hard way the importance of proper care and treatment of mental illness in the following areas:
1. Proper Diagnosis
2. Prescription Medication Selection and Safety
3. Required Ongoing Health Care Exams and Tests
4. Periodic Reviews and Evaluations
5. Family Member Support
The Mark Truskie Foundation provides the latest information on the best practices in treating those with schizophrenia and bipolar disorders patients, and their family members will be informed and able to make decisions -- and take necessary actions to protect the health and safety of themselves, or loved ones. We know the anxiety and confusion that the family faces when a loved one is struck with mental illness. It is tough enough dealing with the problem, let alone doing research to make the right choices/decisions. Our aim is to relieve that burden and present clear and concise information that is critically important in dealing with mental illness.