Many Americans in Maryland and across the United States struggle with chronic pain. To help patients manage their pain, doctors often prescribe medications. While these medications can be extremely effective, they can also be addictive. If you or someone close to you has developed a dependency on prescription pain medication due to a doctor overprescribing such medication, you may be entitled to seek damages through a medical malpractice claim. We can thoroughly examine the facts of your case and determine whether or not you have a viable legal claim.
Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin as well as the legal prescription pain relievers known as oxycodone, hydrocodone, codeine, morphine, fentanyl, and more. According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), of the 21.5 million Americans aged 12 or older who had a substance use disorder in 2014, 1.9 million had a substance use disorder involving prescription painkillers. ASAM also reports that drug overdose is the leading cause of accidental death in the U.S., with 47,055 fatal drug overdoses in 2014. Opioid addiction makes up many of these deaths, with 18,893 overdose deaths related to prescription painkillers.
Due to the addictive nature of opioids, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that physicians should prescribe no more than three days’ worth of a prescription opioid. Among other things, the CDC also recommends that health care providers evaluate their patients frequently when starting on long-term opioid drugs.
Physicians owe their patients a certain standard of care. If physicians deviate from this standard of care and cause harm to the patient, they may be liable for medical malpractice. Medical malpractice claims are rooted in the theory of negligence. Under Maryland law, establishing malpractice requires showing that the doctor owed the patient a duty of care, the doctor breached this duty of care owed to the patient, and the patient suffered harm as a direct result of the doctor’s breach. Proving negligence in opioid addiction cases would require looking into a patient’s medical history, diagnoses, and complaints, as well as the typical way to treat such conditions.
In cases of opioid addiction, you would have to show that your doctor overprescribed opioids that led to your drug dependency. Specifically, you would have to show that another doctor in the same specialty would not have prescribed this amount of opioids under the same or similar circumstances. Put another way, you would have to demonstrate that the doctor did not act reasonably in treating the patient, and a reasonable doctor in the same situation would understand the risks associated with prescribing this amount (i.e., addiction).
Medical malpractice cases can be complex, and having the right attorney on your side can make all the difference. At the Arfaa Law Group, our Baltimore medical malpractice attorneys have the experience and dedication to handle your claim. For years, we have helped Maryland clients seek the compensation they deserve for their harm. To get a free evaluation of your case, you can call 410-889-1850 or contact us online.
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