As of 2012, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has officially declared that prescription drug abuse in the United States as an epidemic. Overdose fatalities involving prescription opioid analgesics – medications used to treat pain – have increased to nearly 17,000 deaths annually in the country.
According to the National Safety Council, drug overdoses cause more deaths than car crashes. Furthermore, prescription painkillers contribute to more deaths than any other type of drugs.
What are Opioids?
Most narcotic pain medications are made from opium, which is the natural ingredient found in heroin – one of the most addictive drugs in the world. The main natural narcotic pain medications are codeine and morphine, and the major synthetic opioids are OxyContin, Vicodin, Percocet, and Dilaudid.
The primary issue with addiction is that a patient who is addicted cannot stop taking the medication. While many people can break the habit, other can’t do it by themselves.
Can I Sue My Doctor for Opiate Addiction?
When it comes to prescribing medication, doctors owe their patients a specific standard of care. If they fall below that duty and patients are harmed, doctors can be held liable for making their patients addicted to opioids.
Medical malpractice can be caused by a wide variety of actions or inactions on the part of healthcare providers; however, the main cause of medical malpractice always comes down to negligence. In an opiate addiction case, you must demonstrate that something about your physician’s drug prescription (i.e. type of drug, dosage, and failure to notice your growing addiction) was a breach of the duty of care which was due to you as a patient.
The following are the four elements which must be proven in all medical malpractice cases:
- Your doctor owed you a duty of care
- Your doctor breached that duty by failing to exercise reasonable care
- This failure to exercise care, or breach, resulted in your harm
- The harm refers to an actual injury and to compensability, which means the monetary damages
Your attorney must obtain all of your medical records relating to the treatment in question and will, most likely, hire a medical expert witness to thoroughly review your records and offer an opinion as to whether the doctor was negligent. A qualified medical expert is often a physician who is in the same field as the potential defendant in a lawsuit.