When people think of deaths due to drug overdoses, the image of street drugs like heroin or cocaine often come to mind, but did you know that according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 44 people in the United States die every day as a result of prescription drug overdose?
The United States is in the midst of what many consider to be a prescription drug overdose epidemic. While prescription drugs are often prescribed for good reasons—to help manage post surgical pain, for people who have been injured, or for those who suffer from chronic illnesses, many of these drugs are so powerful that a person can quickly become addicted, leading to abuse or overdose.
In the wake of this surge in overdoses many are questioning whether or not these drugs always need to be prescribed. The CDC reports that while there has not been an overall change in the amount of pain that Americans report, the amount of prescription painkillers dispensed in the U.S. has nearly quadrupled since 1999.
Now it appears that doctors may be criminally charged for any injuries or deaths that result from overprescribing drugs. In February 2016, a California doctor was sentenced to 30 years to life after three of her patients fatally overdosed on the drugs she prescribed. This was the first time a doctor in the United States had been convicted of murder for overprescribing drugs, the Los Angeles Times reports.
While any prescribed or over the counter drug can become deadly if misused, there are certain drugs that carry a higher risk for abuse. The CDC classifies these drugs as opioids (e.g., Vicodin and OxyContin) and Benzodiazepines (e.g., Xanax and Valium). Prescription drugs may not always be the answer for controlling pain. Doctors should help their patient explore alternative pain management techniques and not rely entirely on prescription drugs. When doctors do prescribe drugs they should thoroughly explain their side effects, addictive nature, and how they interact with other drugs. In addition, doctors should make a plan with their patient to safely wean them from these drugs as the CDC reports that a person can become addicted with just one prescription.
Prescription drug abuse can lead to a potentially fatal overdose. Doctors have a legal duty to inform their patients of the risks involving prescription drugs and to carefully monitor patients while they are taking them.
New Jersey Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Shebell & Shebell Get Compensation For Victims of Negligent Overprescription
If you or someone you love has been harmed by a physician’s negligent overprescription of drugs, the experienced Monmouth County medical malpractice lawyers at Shebell & Shebell can help you get the compensation you deserve. For a free consultation, call us at 866-957-5237 or contact us online today. We serve clients throughout New Jersey, including Monmouth County, Middlesex County, and Ocean County, including Howell, Freehold, Middletown, Shrewsbury, Wall, Union Beach and Neptune.