How Being Prescribed Opioids Leads To Medical Malpractice?

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The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and other government entities have declared that the United States is in an opioid abuse epidemic. Medical providers often prescribe opioids to patients as a treatment for pain, but when prescribed incorrectly, such as doses too strong or prescribed for too long, patients can become addicted. With the prolonged use of an opioid, such as morphine, a patient’s pain may lessen, but at the same time, the body can develop a dependence on the drug, which can negatively affect the individual’s daily life. 

Over time, this will require more and more of the medication to achieve the same desired pain relief. If you have fallen into the misuse of opioids because of a physician overprescribing the drug to you, you may be able to pursue a medical malpractice claim.

Prescribing Opioids

Drug overdoses are one of the leading causes of death among Americans, and the White House has spoken out against this national epidemic. More than 750,000 Americans have died from opioid overdoses in the U.S. since 1999. More physicians are being more conscious of prescribing opioids to patients, and some doctors now do not even prescribe the painkillers. When a doctor prescribes them and then fails to properly follow-up and monitor the patient, it can lead to abuse and addiction that destroys lives and relationships and can lead to the death of the patient.

The most common opioids that doctors prescribe to patients are:

  • Hydrocodone
  • Hydro morphine
  • Fentanyl
  • Morphine
  • Propoxyphene
  • Oxycodone

While many states have enacted stricter legislation regarding prescription opioids, some users still find a way to access the drugs even if they must acquire them illegally. There have been cases in which an individual has prescribed increasingly higher doses of opioids over a longer timeframe. This can lead to addiction, which can damage relationships and destroy families. At this point, the individual should seek help by going to rehab. When this happens, the individual and/or their family may be able to pursue a medical malpractice claim against the prescribing physician.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) reported about 30% of patients who were prescribed opioids to misuse them, and about 8-12% of patients develop an opioid abuse disorder. The NIDA estimated about 4-6% of opioid abusers transition to heroin. About 80% of people who used heroin prior to being prescribed opioids, misused opioids before trying heroin. 

Examples Of Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

There are many reasons to file a medical malpractice lawsuit after being prescribed morphine for an extended timeframe. As an example, an individual may suffer a broken leg. If that patient was hospitalized because of the severity of the fracture and surgery was needed to repair the injury, the patient may have been placed on a morphine drip. 

The patient-controlled anesthetic (PCA) unit is to be programmed so as not to release more than the maximum dosage within a specified timeframe. If the PCA is not programmed properly, the patient can overdose and go into a coma. It could even result in death if the error is not caught in a timely manner. This could be grounds for a medical malpractice claim.

Another example of medical malpractice could involve a doctor prescribing morphine for a back injury. For example, if a patient has been taking the painkiller for three years, and the doctor keeps refilling the prescription, and the dose has slowly increased during this time, that patient may find himself suffering from withdrawal because the medication is no longer as effective as it was initially. 

That patient’s spouse might be pushed to the limit and file for divorce. That same patient might eventually go to rehab after the destruction of his marriage and might even lose his job. In that circumstance, that patient may have a medical malpractice lawsuit against his physician who continued to prescribe the drugs despite the patient’s escalating problems.

Getting A Medical Malpractice Claim Underway

If your doctor has overprescribed morphine to you and it has led to abuse of the drug, you may have a reason for a medical malpractice claim. Call a Los Angeles medical malpractice attorney for a case review. The Trial Law Offices of Bradley I. Kramer, M.D., Esq., helps individuals who have suffered injuries because of medical malpractice. Call for a free case review today.

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