PRINCETON, NJ — A psychiatrist has filed a lawsuit against Trenton Psychiatric Hospital and its clinical director saying he faces termination of employment for bringing to light “perilous conditions” at the hospital and lack of safety for patients and staff.
The complaint was filed on Nov. 3 in Mercer County.
Dr. Amir Rizvi of Princeton was suspended after he spoke up about the “untenable practices” at the hospital, the lawsuit said. Rizvi has no prior history of discipline.
The lawsuit also names the state, Department of Health, Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services and others as defendants.
According to the lawsuit, the hospital’s clinical director, Dr. Intikhab Ahmed instituted policies and engaged in practices that caused the death of at least two patients and severe injury to a third patient who is currently in a “vegetative state.”
Ahmad was hired as the clinical director at the hospital in 2018.
Rizvi, who has worked for 20 years at the hospital, alleges in the lawsuit that Ahmad would “insist on prescribing Clozaril (a very toxic medicine) to many patients,” which led to the death of a patient due to toxicity.
Another patient died in June after he escaped the hospital “only to be found dead by suicide,” the lawsuit alleges.
The clinical director did not care about the “dignity and autonomy of patients,” and sought to control them with “chemical restraints as his treatment recommendations were limited to repeatedly increasing medication for patients without considering alternatives, side effects, or the effectiveness of such a methodology,” according to the complaint.
When questioned about his “irresponsible leadership,” Ahmad became abusive and frequently yelled at staff in front of others, the lawsuit alleges.
There have been several complaints filed against Ahmad including one complaint of gender discrimination filed by a female employee. Rizvi said the retaliation comes after he supported the woman’s claim and testified against Ahmad on two occasions.
The woman was “forced out of her position” after a lengthy suspension, the lawsuit says.
According to the lawsuit, Ahmad “did not take kindly to having their decisions questioned or countered, thus initiating unsupported, baseless disciplinary actions” against Rizvi.
Rizvi said the hospital is seeking to terminate his employment based on an incident that occurred almost a year ago on a “newly concocted fictional retelling of events.”
“Dr. Amir Rizvi, a man of impeccable character, has been a champion and advocate for his patients for nearly 24 years. Unfortunately over this last week, he learned that his integrity and willingness to speak out about grievous conditions at the hospital has put his livelihood in jeopardy,” Rizvi’s attorney Kathleen Redpath-Perez told Patch.
“The fictitious nature of the Defendants’ allegations became even more evident on Friday, November 4, 2022 when the State, desperate and haphazard in their attempts to railroad my client, presented video evidence disproving their own claims,” Redpath-Perez said. “We will be amending our complaint to add additional facts and causes of actions arising from this latest conduct.”
In the lawsuit, Rizvi also alleges that Ahmad monopolized on-call overtime work, making nearly $50,000 last year.
Rizvi is seeking economic compensatory damages, non-economic compensatory damages, emotional distress consequential damages, front pay and back pay and reinstatement.
“We ask for a call to action from Governor Murphy, Senate President Richard J. Codey, and Deputy Commissioner of Health Services Lisa Asare and implore them to act to protect human life at Trenton Psychiatric Hospital and physicians like Dr. Amir Rizvi whose voices should not be silenced in the face of preventable death and serious injury in our state’s psychiatric hospital,” Redpath-Perez said.