A hospital psychiatrist who has been critical of Anna Nicole Smith's doctor for overmedicating the model was accused Monday by a defense attorney of weaning Smith from addictive drugs too quickly and ignoring the celebrity model when she went into distress.
The cross-examination of Dr. Nathalie Maullin by attorney Steve Sadow, who represents Smith's lawyer-boyfriend Howard K. Stern, was the first volley in a battle of doctors expected to dominate the drug conspiracy case.
Maullin testified she treated Smith at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center when she came in pregnant and in withdrawal from the painkiller Methadone and the anti-anxiety drug Xanax.
Maullin said she concluded that Smith's doctor, co-defendant Sandeep Kapoor, had prescribed drugs that amounted to "overkill" for Smith's condition.
On cross-examination, Sadow elicited testimony from Maullin that she diagnosed Smith in 45 minutes as having a borderline personality disorder and ordered her weaned off Xanax.
Testimony also indicated Maullin was slow to respond when she began receiving calls from the hospital reporting Smith had hallucinations, couldn't sleep, was agitated and had fallen out of bed, suffering bruises.
"She was safe. She was in a hospital. Nothing bad was going to happen to her," Maullin said.
A nurse's notes from the period showed that Smith was complaining of pain all over her body, Maullin acknowledged. But she said she was never told that.
Maullin said when she did arrive at the hospital, she encountered Stern who had been at Smith's side throughout and was concerned about her well-being.
"Do you remember telling him the detox might have been too aggressive?" asked Sadow.
"I could have," she said.
Kapoor, Stern and Dr. Khristine Eroshevich have pleaded not guilty to conspiring to provide excessive opiates and sedatives to Smith. They are not charged in her 2007 overdose death.
Lawyers for Kapoor and Eroshevich suggested in questioning that Maullin was extremely averse to prescribing medication and was given the nickname 'Dr. No' by colleagues.
"It was a joke," Maullin said. "They thought there were too many people who said yes to medication. They needed someone who would say no, and two people called me 'Dr. No.'"
Attorney Brad Brunon, who represents Eroshevich, asked about friendships between a psychiatrist and patient. Eroshevich was Smith's neighbor and friend before she became her psychiatrist.
Maullin said there was a line between a doctor-patient relationship and friendship that must not be crossed.
At the end of their one-week contact, Maullin said she decided she could not treat Smith any further.
"You washed your hands of her and said, 'I'm done?'" asked Superior Court Judge Robert Perry
"No, I offered her options," she said. When Smith refused, Maullin withdrew as her doctor.
In spite of her earlier criticisms of Kapoor, she said, "I had talked to Dr. Kapoor and I thought we were on the same page that she had to be off these medications. I actually felt good discharging her to the care of Dr. Kapoor."
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