Medications & Malpractice: Holding doctors accountable can prove difficult for patients, families

John Lester memorialLori Lester never dreamed that her husband of 15 years — and someone she had known for 40 — would take his own life.

“He was a very happy man, everyone said that about him,” the Klamath Falls realtor told the Herald and News this past week. “If you were down, he would lift you up, no matter how bad a day he had. He was always upbeat.”

Yet, at age 59, John Lester shot himself in their ranch-style home off Old Midland Road on Jan. 8, 2014.


John’s close friend, Bub Haigh, and Lori had made plans the night before to take John to Bend to seek medical attention. On the morning of the 8th, Haigh was en route and Lori was rushing out of the house to feed the horses so she could travel with Bub and John to Bend.


“After I fed the horses, we were just about to leave when I found him in the bedroom,” she said.

Up until Christmas 2013, everything seemed to be going in the right direction for the Lester family. They were finally getting clear of debt incurred while operating long-haul trucks and a gravel-hauling business, Lester’s Dump Trucks. Lori, now 59, had purchased a Klamath Falls real estate business (Apodaca-Pierce and Associates) and the family was busy planning outings for the coming year.

“He told me that 2014 was going to be more for me [her year],” Lori said. “We had finally made it over the hump, we owned our equipment outright. John was planning on remodeling our home that year, which had been built in the 1950s. He had bought new appliances and had worked on replacing the countertops. He was just so upbeat.”

Anxiety attacks

It was about five years ago that the anxiety surfaced.

John had been taking medications for “travel anxiety” that could be traced to an incident early in his career.

“He was unloading a truck in Bakersfield, Calif., when the engine in the back of the truck exploded. He received serious burns on his arms, back and face and was hospitalized for three months,” Lori said.

“At one point we were going to Bend to see the children when he said we needed to turn around. I had never seen him like that. We had to head home. It was tough to plan a trip anywhere. That’s when we sought medical attention,” she said.

By the end of December 2013, however, John Lester was on a downward spiral. For five years, 2009-2013, he received insomnia and anti-anxiety prescriptions from a Klamath Falls clinic.

In December of 2013, doctors at the clinic cut off his prescriptions, warning they were highly addictive.


John ran out of his prescriptions for sleep and anxiety just before Christmas. He returned to the clinic with worsening symptoms, more than once, asking for refills for the medications he had been given since 2009.

“He was so surprised they had cut him off, rather than lowering the dosage or finding something else he could use. I didn’t know what to do. He wouldn’t let me call 911 to get him help.”

It was four years ago Monday.

The clinic where he was refused more medications was Basin Immediate Care, owned by TLP Inc. and operated by physicians Thomas Koch, Laura Moore, Kathie Lang and J. Eric Brunswick. They were the subject of a medical malpractice lawsuit brought by Lori Lester in October 2015.

In March 2016, the case was dismissed from trial with “no awards to either party,” the court order obtained by the H&N read. However, H&N would later learn the case went to confidential negotiations for settlement instead of trial. (For details of the suit, see the sidebar online).

The clinic’s doctors were contacted through their office manager to comment on this story, but they declined. The physicians and Lori Lester cannot talk about the settlement as they are all bound by a non-disclosure agreement.

“I would not wish this on anyone. I came home to a dark house every day after John was gone, there wasn’t even a noise.” Lori reminisced, “We had made plans for the rest of our lives.”


4 Responses

  1. […] John Lester shot himself on Jan. 8, 2014. […]

  2. No wonder I can’t find anyone in Klamath Falls to treat pain and anxiety, there isn’t anyone!

  3. It seems it is okay to take away drugs that are working for fear one will become addicted, instead of helping a patient and allowing them to take responsibility for possible addiction. In this case addiction would have been a better outcome.

  4. […] Medications & Malpractice: Holding doctors accountable can prove difficult for patients, famili… […]

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