Addiction is a disease like any other. And since you wouldn’t blame healthcare providers for a condition like diabetes or cancer, you might not think to blame them for a substance use disorder. When it comes to opiate addiction, though, there are scenarios in which the prescribing doctors actually are liable.
Prescription opioids are powerful pain relievers that can benefit patients in a number of ways; however, they must be administered with caution because they’re habit-forming. These drugs are so potent, in fact, that more than 30 states have enacted legislation limiting their usage as of October 2018.
Violating these laws is just one way doctors could be found liable for an opiate addiction. Here are some other scenarios that might warrant a medical malpractice claim for a substance use disorder:
- The Doctor Failed to Review the Patient’s History
If a patient has a history of addiction, it’s generally unwise for him or her to take prescription opioids. Even if he or she abused something other than opiates and has been in recovery for years, taking these drugs could lead to dependence and a substance abuse disorder.
At the end of the day, people who have already battled one addiction are more vulnerable to developing another. As such, doctors must review a patient’s medical history, family history, and lifestyle closely before prescribing opioids.
- The Doctor Failed to Inform the Patient of the Risks
Regardless of what their providers recommend, patients have the final say when it comes to the care they receive. To support this autonomy, doctors cannot act until patients give their voluntary, informed consent for the medical intervention in question.
In order to give your informed consent without reservation, you must:
- Have the mental capacity to make the decision in the first place;
- Understand the potential risks, complications, and/or side effects of proceeding;
- Comprehend all relevant information you are given; and
- Agree without coercion or duress.
If your provider does not ensure you meet all four requirements before prescribing opioids, you may have grounds for a malpractice claim should an addiction develop.
- The Doctor Failed to Prescribe a Reasonable Regimen
Generally speaking, opioids should be prescribed in small dosages for short periods of time. Although there are exceptions for patients with issues like chronic pain, doctors need to be mindful of the regimen they’re prescribing. Ordering too many opioids for too long could be grounds for a lawsuit if the patient ends up developing a dependence.
Call 212-421-0300 for a Free Consultation with a New York City Medical Malpractice Lawyer
If you want to sue a negligent doctor for an opiate addiction, contact The Law Office of Richard M. Kenny to discuss your case. Our firm is backed by more than a century of experience in the legal field.
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