Drug and alcohol abuse and addiction have become a severe problem across this country. As far back as 2011, reports indicated that over 20 million people in the U.S. older than 12 years old suffered from a substance addiction of some kind. Unfortunately, nearly a decade later, millions of people still don’t get the treatment they need to control or end their addictions to drugs. During 2011 when the study was performed, only 3 million of the 20 million people addicted to drugs received addiction treatment.
People who suffer from addiction need medical guidance to reestablish comfortable and healthy lifestyles. When a loved one enters a treatment facility to get the help they need, they should have the confidence and security that they will receive the attention and care they deserve so they can overcome the difficult challenge they face.
When deciding on a drug rehab facility, it is crucial to do your research to make sure the one you choose has a proven track record of success. Unfortunately, there have been occasions where facility staff abuse, neglect, and mistreat patients. When this happens, the results can be devastating, leading to severe injuries to patients. Sometimes wrongful death can result from the negligence and wrongdoing of facility staff. While a wrongful death at a rehabilitation center may seem unexpected, these instances occur far more often than is acceptable.
Rehabilitation facilities work to help individuals overcome addictions to a variety of substances, such as:
• Opioids (or opiates, including oxycodone, oxycontin, Vicodin, Norco, Percocet, and Fentanyl)
One of the most common addictions faced by Americans today is the addiction to opioids, which has led to the current opioid crisis. As the crisis continues to get bigger and bigger, the demand for treatment centers has also increased dramatically. This rise in patients seeking treatment may contribute to staff negligence and standards not being met. This can lead to patient injury or death at treatment centers. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, in 2015 alone, there were 3,362 deaths at treatment centers across the U.S.
Ensuring Your Loved One Gets the Proper Care
Sometimes prescription medications are used to help your loved one overcome substance abuse. The rehabilitation facility staff must make sure these medications are distributed in proper doses on an established schedule. If these medications aren’t adequately monitored or administered properly to oversee the detoxification process, devastating – or even fatal – consequences could result. If your loved one is a patient in an alcohol and drug abuse facility and dies while getting treatment, you may be able to hold the facility responsible for their death by pursuing a wrongful death claim.
Your loved one is supposed to be monitored while they are a patient at a drug rehab facility, so if he or she dies because of an overdose while being treated there, you might be able to hold the treatment center and its employees responsible by filing a wrongful death claim. This could be a complicated claim, so you will need to enlist the help of a wrongful death attorney who specializes in medical malpractice, medical errors, and medical negligence.
How Are Prescription Drugs Used by Rehabilitation Facilities?
Various prescription drugs are used to help patients recover from drug and alcohol addiction.
In fact, addiction or abuse often starts from being prescribed medication. When the patient doesn’t get the desired results, he or she may increase the frequency or dosage without consulting his or her doctor. Sometimes, the patient may also continue to take the medication longer than he or she is supposed to and may go to great lengths to acquire more drugs.
There are a variety of prescription drugs that are used to help with the detoxification process. These medications can help with the reestablishment of normal brain functions and help reduce cravings while the patient is going through the recovery process. If these drugs are improperly administered, there can be severe consequences.
How do drug-related deaths occur in drug treatment facilities?
• Over-administration of medication
• Improper monitoring of patients receiving detox medications
• Improper supervision of patients while medications are being consumed.
• Improper dispensing of medication to patients.
• Failure to ensure that substances are not brought into the facility
If your loved one dies as a patient at a drug and alcohol treatment facility, you need to make sure the cause of death is reported. A wrongful death attorney will review the details surrounding the death of the patient and determine if the rehabilitation facility should be held responsible for the loss of life.
Causes of Deaths in Rehabilitation Centers
The healthcare professionals and staff of drug and alcohol rehab facilities are responsible for ensuring patients have safe conditions where they receive their detox treatment. These facilities and their staff are responsible for making sure each patient gets the care they need throughout the duration of their treatment. When facilities don’t have the proper safety conditions in place, or if patients are neglected and abused by staff members, their life can be put at risk.
When patients don’t receive adequate care and attention, death can result, as well as the following conditions:
• Physical harm, such as assaults
• Neglect, resulting in malnourishment
• Medication errors
• Negligence that results in medical conditions being untreated
• Poor treatment by medical professionals and staff
• Unwillingness to seek medical services outside the facility when needed
If your loved one has died because of a lack of care or mistreatment in a drug rehabilitation facility, you can pursue a wrongful death claim against the facility and its staff who failed to perform their job to specification.
When medical malpractice or medical negligence leads to wrongful death, you need to enlist the help of a wrongful death attorney who is familiar with such situations and experienced in handling these kinds of cases. Through a wrongful death claim for the loss of life in a drug rehab facility, you can seek to recover compensation for emotional distress, loss of companionship, loss of income, funeral expenses, and other associated costs and damages.
Fraud and Negligent Misrepresentation
There are often guarantees and promises made by the drug and alcohol rehab facility about the effectiveness of their services and overall success rates. These promises are meant to draw in new patients and justify the fees charged for short-term care. Standard guarantees made by these centers include a safe environment and 24-hour supervision. Many facilities now promise dual-diagnosis treatment, which seeks to address mental disorders as well as the addiction itself.
Medical Negligence and Wrongful Death
The employees of drug and alcohol treatment facilities and the facilities themselves have the legal obligation to every patient they serve. If the facility or its staff breach their duties, then there has been negligence, and you might be entitled to recover damages.
If the breach of duty at a detox facility causes the death of a patient, then the survivors have the right to recover damages for financial support, loss of companionship and love, loss of protection, affection, and moral support as well as funeral expenses. Ordinary and reasonable care has a broad interpretation that is open to interpretation depending on the circumstances.
The facility should provide proper medical support, and the care should be provided by trained medical professionals, with supervision around the clock, and the appropriate guidance and safeguards to avoid relapses by the patient while the patient is being treated. When these facilities fail to provide proper care, it can have tragic results. It has become too familiar and too common for patients to relapse while receiving detox treatment or right after leaving a detox facility.
Hiring an Attorney for a Wrongful Death at Opioid Rehab Facility
Patients in drug rehabilitation facilities may also be more likely to commit suicide because of the lack of access to proper mental healthcare services. Wrongful death attorneys take these kinds of cases seriously, and no upfront payment is necessary. Instead, wrongful death lawyers only take claims that they are sure to have merit, so they work on a contingency basis, getting paid only after the case has been won and there has been a judgment or a settlement for the wrongful death claim.
If your loved one has died in an addiction treatment facility in Los Angeles, contact the Trial Law Offices of Bradley I. Kramer, M.D., Esq., at (323) 794-0213 for a free initial consultation.