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Doctor who treated Rebecca Riley is sued

Lawyer for girl’s estate says woman responsible for death

The estate of 4-year-old Rebecca Riley who died in Hull after an overdose of psychiatric drugs has sued her psychiatrist for medical malpractice, claiming the doctor is responsible for the girl’s death.

BOSTON - The estate of 4-year-old Rebecca Riley, who died after an overdose of psychiatric drugs, has sued her psychiatrist for medical malpractice, claiming the doctor is responsible for the girl’s death.

The attorney who represents Rebecca Riley’s estate said that Tufts Medical Center psychiatrist Dr. Kayoko Kifuji misdiagnosed the girl as bipolar and having attention deficit disorder when she was less than 2 1/2 years old, then prescribed a series of powerful drugs that eventually killed the girl. Kifuji diagnosed Rebecca’s brother and sister, now 13 and 7, with the same illnesses and prescribed drugs for them as well.

The siblings are the beneficiaries of Rebecca’s estate. They are together in a foster home in Massachusetts, a relative told The Patriot Ledger today.

Rebecca Riley died at her parents’ apartment in Hull in December 2006. The family formerly lived in Weymouth.

Her parents, Carolyn and Michael Riley, are awaiting trial on second-degree murder charges, accused of killing their daughter by intentionally overdosing her with powerful drugs, including Clonidine, a blood-pressure medication used as a sedative in children. Clonidine was one of several drugs prescribed by Kifuji.

If the Rileys are cleared of the charges, they too will share in any awards from the lawsuit.

Andrew Meyer Jr., the attorney who represents the estate, says the battery of powerful drugs Kifuji prescribed made the girl a “4-year-old zombie” and eventually killed her.

The suit was filed Thursday in Suffolk Superior Court.

Investigators in the Riley case said that a school nurse at the Johnson Early Childhood Center in Weymouth where Rebecca was a student had talked to Kifuji and Carolyn Riley about the girl’s medication. The nurse said that the staff was concerned because Rebecca was too lethargic from the drugs to fully participate in school, investigators said.

Kifuji has not been charged in the case but voluntarily surrendered her medical license while the case is being reviewed by state regulators.

The defense attorneys for both Carolyn and Michael Riley have from the start blamed Kifuji for overmedicating the little girl.