Medical Malpractice Claims for Prescription Overdose
When you are in pain, whether due to an accidental injury or as the result of a chronic condition, you expect the doctor to take the steps necessary both to alleviate your discomfort while addressing the underlying causes. While prescription pain medications can play an important role in helping to improve quality of life and manage your illness or injury, they have the potential to result in addiction and, in some cases, potentially lethal overdoses. Medical malpractice lawsuits have become increasingly common as a way of holding negligent doctors accountable when these situations occur. Public health advocates are putting pressure on the medical community to address what some may view as a national epidemic.
Opioid Use and Abuse
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), opioid abuse has become an increasingly common problem in the United States, as the number of people prescribed opioids has quadrupled over the last 15 years. The latest statistics from the CDC indicate that the past several years have seen record numbers of people becoming addicted to prescribed opioids such as Oxycodone, Hydrocodone, and Methadone, as well as record number of overdoses attributed to the drug. In what is sometimes deemed a national epidemic, more than half a million people have died of drug overdoses since the year 2000, with as many as half of these cases involve prescription opioids.
A July 2016 USA Today article reports that Congress has recently approved a new bill that aims to help stem the opioid crisis. The bill, known as the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, promises more than $181 million in federal money that may be issued to states to help fund increased addiction services and to help make the drug naloxone—a drug used to prevent opioid overdose — more readily available. Many believe that it is imperative for doctors who prescribe these medications to take a more proactive stance in considering the medical and emotional history of their patients before prescribing opioids to deal with pain.
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Medical Errors and Mistakes in Prescribing Opioids
Research conducted by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) into lawsuits filed against physicians due to opioid addiction and overdose indicate several types of medical errors and mistakes for which physicians can be held accountable. These include the following:
- Prescribing opioid medications to those with a history of addiction or drug abuse
- Prescribing opioids to those predisposed to suicidal tendencies, such as those suffering from depression or other mental health issues
- Being unaware of other prescribed medications which could result in harmful drug interactions
- Prescribing opioids to patients more likely to lose track of dosages, such as young people or the elderly
In addition to the above, simply prescribing opioids is not always enough to treat the pain patients experience. Without proper monitoring, follow up care, and continued treatment, patients are more likely to take more than the recommended dosage to alleviate discomfort, increasing their likelihood of addiction and overdose.
If you or a loved one has suffered an injury or complications due to prescription opioids, contact our South Carolina medical malpractice attorneys today. We can advise you on how to hold medical providers accountable for their mistakes and errors, and assist you in getting compensation you deserve.