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Medical Liability For Prescription Opioid Addiction
When Painkiller Meds Lead To Injury, Health Problems Or Death
Eager to provide pain relief to patients, doctors have unwittingly contributed to the epidemic of prescription drug addiction and opioid deaths. Some negligently fill prescriptions without doing their medical due diligence. A few knowingly feed patient addictions or recklessly overprescribe medications.
If a loved one died from an overdose or has suffered serious health problems, his or her medical providers could be held legally responsible. Talk to an experienced medical malpractice lawyer at Ginsberg & O'Connor, P.C. Our Mount Laurel firm serves clients in central New Jersey and statewide.
Can Addiction Be Caused By Medical Malpractice?
Prescription painkillers such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, tramadol and fentanyl are highly effective. Unfortunately, these opioids are also highly addictive. Thousands of Americans are dying from accidental overdoses of prescription opioids or from heroin overdoses that were kick-started by an addiction to painkillers such as OxyContin, Vicodin and Percocet.
Many patients become dangerously addicted, to the detriment of their jobs, finances, family life and health. As the addiction escalates, some turn to fraud, theft or other means to obtain more pills. Some move on to heroin, which is cheaper but of course illegal.
Increasingly, the focus is on the doctors who started patients down that path. In looking into a possible medical malpractice cause of action, we might ask:
- Was the original prescription necessary for the injury or ailment? Were the dosage and duration reasonable? Were other medications or therapies suggested?
- Was the prescription appropriate for the individual? A history of substance abuse or past treatment for addictions should raise red flags.
- Was the prescription refilled multiple times without seeing the patient? How many refills?
- Was there informed consent? Did the doctor or pharmacist warn about the addictive qualities of the medication or discuss the signs of addiction?
- Was the doctor in essence a pusher? Did the physician write an inordinate number of prescriptions to his or her patients? Were there perks or kickbacks from pharmaceutical companies? Did the doctor or clinic authorize prescriptions online or over the phone?
We would also explore culpability of a pharmacy, hospital or drug company such as a pharmacist failing to ask questions, a nurse disbursing prescription-only drugs without authority or collusion between a doctor and a pharmaceutical sales representative.
If there are grounds for legal action, such as a wrongful death lawsuit, we would seek replacement of the person’s lost income, reimbursement of medical and funeral expenses, and compensation for loss of the person’s companionship, love and household services. In a personal injury action, we might seek lost earnings, reimbursement for hospitalization or drug treatment, coverage for continuing support services during addiction recovery, and damages for pain and suffering.
Do We Have A Case For Malpractice?
Every case is unique. The threshold for malpractice requires a disregard for standard medical protocols or an indifference to the consequences of a patient’s addiction.
There might be no claim if there was no lasting harm or evidence that the doctor was negligent or corrupt. But if you have your suspicions about what happened to your loved one, it costs nothing to explore. We provide a free consultation and there are no attorney fees unless we recover compensation through a settlement or trial.