Nearly everyone knows someone affected by opioid addiction. The Center for Disease Control has called the opioid epidemic one the most pressing public health issues in the United States today. “Last year, more Americans died from drug overdoses than car crashes.” https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2016/t0315-prescribing-opioids-guidelines.html
Opioids are natural or synthetic chemicals that reduce feelings of pain. Common prescription opioid pain relievers include:
Prescription opioids are often used effectively to manage post operative surgical pain on a short term basis. They can also relieve the suffering in patients with chronic pain syndrome whose pain cannot be adequately managed with conservative methods, or who have cancer or other end of life conditions. When prescribed for long periods of time opioids carry serious side effects in that they are highly addictive and increase the risk for unintentional overdose and death.
The unfortunate reality is that opioid addiction is often caused by doctors who prescribe hundreds of pills without justification for the sole purpose of making money. The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the opioid epidemic is “doctor driven.” https://www.cdc.gov/media/releases/2016/t0315-prescribing-opioids-guidelines.html
Officials are targeting doctors who liberally hand out pain medication prescriptions without justification. In California, a physician sold Xanax and oxycodone to a college student from her office in a strip mall in Los Angeles, who died after mixing the drugs with alcohol. The Doctor was sentenced to 30 years to life for the overdose deaths by three patients, including the 20 year old college student. http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-doctor-murder-overdose-drugs-sentencing-20160205-story.html
There are legitimate Board Certified Pain Management Specialists who carefully evaluate patients and weigh the risks and benefits of prescribing opioid medications before doing so. On the flip side however, there are many doctors whose specialty is not pain management who freely prescribe pain medications so as to keep their patients coming back for more.
According to Christina Ctorides, partner in the medical malpractice department of Javerbaum Wurgaft http://www.javerbaumwurgaft.com/christina-ctorides/ the public should be mindful of the following:
- If you or a family member needs long term pain medications for a chronic medical condition seek help from a Board Certified Pain Management Doctor.
- Do not seek or accept treatment from a doctor who does limited examinations and who works mostly for cash payments.
- Exhaust all other methods of pain relief before accepting a prescription for opioids. (Physical therapy, exercise, nerve blocks, stimulators)
- Do not accept a prescription for pain medications from a doctor who does not fully explain the significant risks associated with the long term use of opioids.
- There is no evidence to show that opioids can control chronic pain effectively over the long term.
- When patients receive narcotics for long periods, they can become more sensitive to pain, a condition called hyperalgesia. (J. David Haddox, the vice president of health policy at Purdue Pharma – the manufacturer of OxyContin – acknowledged “opioid analgesics have sometimes been associated with diminished pain relief in the face of increasing doses.”) http://www.newyorker.com/business/currency/who-is-responsible-for-the-pain-pill-epidemic
When doctors unnecessarily prescribe narcotic pain medications solely for financial gain, not only do they commit medical malpractice, but they also violate the Hippocratic Oath which says “First, do no harm.” If you, or a loved one has become addicted to pain medications because of a negligent doctor, contact the medical malpractice attorneys at Javerbaum Wurgaft, we are here to help.