• Oct
    24
    Posted in:
    Posted by: Jarve Kaplan Granato Starr

    Can A Pain Management Doctor Be Held Liable For Contributing To An Opioid Addiction?

    Opioid addiction has reached epidemic proportions in the United States. In attempting to put a stop to this deadly problem, it is common to look for someone to blame. Many questions have been raised about the liability of the drug manufacturers, and there are class action lawsuits being filed against many of them. But others are asking whether the individual physicians who write pain management prescriptions are also to blame. The answer is not clear-cut.

    Pain management is an important part of what physicians are supposed to provide for their patients. Unfortunately, the recent increase in opioid addiction means that those doctors need to be hyper-aware of who their patients are, what their symptoms are, and how they provide them with prescriptions for drugs that are now known to be dangerously addictive. While medical boards and regulatory agencies are working to put new prescribing practices in place, physicians need to guard against being duped by their patients and make sure that they are acting in a way that is within the standard of care.

    Though there are certain physicians who have used pain management as an excuse for corrupt actions with reference to prescribing opioids, those individuals are in the minority. However, roughly 25 percent of chronic abusers get their opioid drugs via prescriptions provided directly by their physician. This means that medical professionals need to become much more aware of their role in the misuse of these drugs to avoid misprescribing.

    Misprescribing is the term that is most frequently used when it comes to physician liability in pain management. The term is specifically used when the physician prescribing opioids does so outside of the standard of care. Examples would include writing a prescription for opioids in situations where there is no apparent medical need, writing prescriptions for dosages that are higher than would be medically indicated or in quantities that are far beyond what the patient’s symptoms would indicate. It does not, however, refer to situations where a patient is purposely attempting to fool their physician by misrepresenting their symptoms or their intentions with reference to the drugs: a physician cannot be expected to act as a detective who discovers that the patient intends to sell the drugs they’re asking for, any more than they can anticipate an unexpected adverse reaction to a drug. When a physician acts within the framework and in keeping with the standards of care, they are less likely to be found liable for negative outcomes.

    If you have lost a loved one to an opioid addiction and would like to learn more about your legal rights and options, contact our office today to set up an appointment.

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