Pain Pills, Overdose and Medical Malpractice

21 Utahns Die Each Month From Drug Overdose.

You might think that when a patient accidentally overdose on prescription pain medication, the doctors and pharmacies might be a bit more conservative and dial back the use. Not so. Physicians, doctors, and pharmacies continue to fill prescriptions for narcotic pain medication even after a patient unintentionally overdoses.

More than ninety percent of chronic pain patients hospitalized for an overdose of opioid painkillers continue to receive prescriptions for the drugs. Source: CBS News

The Los Angeles Times (12/29, Kaplan, 3.6M) reports in “Science Now” that “even after overdosing on opioid medications, more than nine out of 10 patients continued to get prescriptions for the powerful” pain medicines, a study published online Dec. 29 in the Annals of Internal Medicine indicated. Consequently, some patients “went on to suffer another overdose,” the study of 2,848 opioid overdose patients found. According to the Boston Globe (12/29, Freyer, 1M), an accompanying editorial observed that the majority of healthcare professionals “receive little training, have few resources, and receive minimal support to address either chronic pain or addiction.”

In the past decade, Utah has experienced a more than 400% increase in deaths associated with misuse and abuse of prescription drugs, making prescription drug overdose one of the leading causes of injury deaths in Utah. According to Utah State Department of Health, Utah ranks as 8th in the nation for drug overdose deaths. On average, 21 Utahns die every day as a result of prescription pain medications. My hometown of Ogden has the 3rd highest rate of prescription pain medication drug overdoses in Utah. Source: Utah Department of Health. Drugs typically involved in such deaths are: Oxycontin, Oxycodone, Percocet, Lortab and Hydrocodone. They are usually prescribed in combination with other drugs that also cause Central Nervous System suppression. The combined effect causes the patient to die in their sleep as they lack sufficient ‘drive’ to keep breathing.

If you or someone you know has had a loved one die as a result of prescription pain killers, you may want to seek the advice of a qualified medial malpractice attorney to determine if the doctors, physicians and pharmacies could have acted to prevent the death.

Peter Summerill

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