While pain medications can be a lifeline for those suffering from a variety of injuries, illnesses, and chronic conditions, the number of people who have become addicted to these medications, as well as the number of medication overdoses, have raised alarms on a national level. Patients and their families have begun holding the doctor’s providing these medicines accountable, and medical malpractice claims against providers have become increasingly common. Recently enacted legislation promises increased funding for addiction services, while also increasing the availability of a medication that could help save a patient’s life in the event of an overdose.

New Legislation To Prevent Medication Abuse and Overdose

According to an July 2016 USA Today report, the U.S. Senate has approved a bill that promises to increase funding for programs to help eliminate the devastating effects of opioid medication abuse and overdose. The bill, known as the Comprehensive Addiction and Recovery Act, promises over $180 million for programs that would help address addiction issues related to commonly prescribed pain relieving drugs, such as Hydrocodone, Oxycodone, and Methadone. While these drugs can provide needed relief for patients suffering from a variety of debilitating and painful conditions, they are also highly addictive, as well as potentially life-threatening if taken in larger amounts or in combination with other medications. In addition to increased addiction services, the Act would also provide funding to make naloxone, a drug that helps to prevent opioid overdose, more readily available.

The Impact Of Opioid Pain Medications

National legislation comes amid increased concerns over rising numbers of opioid overdoses that have occurred over the last 15 years. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as doctors have increasingly relied on opioids as a way of treating patients in chronic pain, the total number of people prescribed opioids has quadrupled since 2000.  Statistics from the CDC indicate that record numbers of people have become addicted to these drugs over the last 16 years, while as many as 78 people overdose on opioid medication each day in the U.S.

An article in American Medical News, a leading resource for physicians, states that doctors themselves bear some portion of responsibility for patients who become addicted or overdose, and that these doctors are now becoming the target of lawsuits filed by patients and surviving family members. The report states that medical mistakes and errors that can lead to opioid addiction and overdose include the following:

  • Failing to consider medical history when prescribing opioids;
  • Failure to properly monitor patients on these drugs;
  • Failure to warn patients about potentially life threatening drug interactions;
  • Failure to provide follow up care and treatment to help eliminate the need for medications.

Doctors bear responsibility for prescribing these medications to people with a history of addiction and mental health issues, as well as for not responding to ongoing pain issues, causing patients to take more of the medication to get the relief they need.

Reach Out to Us for Professional Assistance 

If you or someone you care about has suffered negative impacts and side effects as the result of a prescription medication, contact Hogan Frick today. Our experienced medical malpractice attorneys can advise you on how to hold negligent physicians responsible for the damages they have caused, and can assist you in getting the compensation you and your loved ones deserve.