A Des Moines physician was charged with eight counts of involuntary manslaughter for allegedly prescribing patients with large amounts of narcotic painkillers, the Des Moines Register reports.
Daniel Baldi, 50, appeared last week in Polk County Courthouse with his lawyer, Guy Cook, to attend criminal court proceeding. Judge Odell McGhee presided the hearing and later entered a not-guilty plea on Baldiâ€™s behalf.
If convicted, Baldi could face up to 16 years in prison, but Cook said he would battle to prevent a conviction.
“It is unprecedented to turn unfortunate deaths or medical results into a crime against a doctor,” Cook said.
Baldi’s case came amid increasing national concern about abuse of narcotic painkillers and other prescription drugs.
“Unexpected deaths can occur in severe, chronic pain patients, unrelated to medical treatment,” Cook added. “This is especially true with patients who are drug addicts or drug abusers.”
One of the eight patients who died of overdoses were identified in court papers as Paul Gray, an internationally known musician who helped found the band Slipknot.
Gray was found dead of a drug overdose at an Urbandale hotel in May 2010. He reportedly struggled for years with addiction issues.
Baldi was released later Wednesday after posting $16,000 bail.