The use of prescription opioid painkillers has soared over the past few years. In fact, according to one recent news article, the number of prescriptions for opioid painkillers has increased more than 300 percent over the past 15 years. While the medication may be helpful to those suffering from severe pain, this increase in the prevalence of addictive and dangerous medication has led to an increase in the number of addictions and overdoses. Additionally, the prevalence and ease of obtaining prescription painkillers can also act as a “gateway” to heroin, which is a cheaper and more effective drug for those addicted to opioid painkillers.
Physician Liability for Painkiller Overdoses
While it is legally possible for a physician to be held accountable in a court of law for negligently prescribing addictive painkillers to a patient, it is not exceedingly common. This is for a number of reasons. First, there must be some “harm” suffered by the patient. This generally requires more than an addiction to a prescription drug. However, if a patient overdoses and is seriously injured or dies as a result of the overdose, that may satisfy the damages requirement.
Another reason why these lawsuits are not often successful is because the plaintiff must show that the doctor was negligent in prescribing the medication. Just because a medication has dangerous side effect, including the possibility of addiction, does not necessarily mean an doctor is negligent in prescribing it. However, if the doctor has prior knowledge of an existing or recent addiction, that doctor should avoid prescribing another addictive medication. In fact, some plaintiffs across the country have had success bringing this very type of lawsuit.
The Ease of Obtaining Prescription Painkillers
According to one recent news report, it is easier than most people think to obtain a prescription for opioid painkillers. Shockingly, this is even the case for those who have already overdosed on the medication once. In fact, the article cites a recent study conducted by the Annals of Internal Medicine, a medical journal, that found 91% of those who have overdosed on a prescription painkiller are able to get another prescription, often from the very same physician who provided them with the initial prescription.
Has Your Loved One Suffered Through an Addiction?
If you or a loved one have recently suffered through a tragic addiction, you may be entitled to compensation from the doctor who repeatedly filled the prescription giving you or your loved one continued access to the dangerous drug. While these lawsuits are not viable in every case of addiction or overdose, they may be possible depending on the surrounding facts. To learn more about how you may be able to bring a case like this, and to discuss your injuries with a skilled personal injury advocate, call 410-654-3600 to set up a free consultation today. Calling is free and will not result in any obligation on your part unless we are ultimately able to help you recover compensation for your injuries or loss.
More Blog Posts:
Recalled Drugs and Pharmacy Liability, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, January 4, 2016.
Statutes of Limitations in Pharmacy Error Cases, Pharmacy Error Injury Lawyer Blog, December 9, 2015.