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3 forms of medical malpractice that involve opioid drugs

On Behalf of | Apr 25, 2024 | Medical Malpractice |

Opioid medications are some of the most useful drugs that doctors can recommend. They are also some of the most dangerous medications currently used to treat patients. Opioids are synthetic pain relievers that are cheaper to use and often stronger than traditional opiates derived directly from natural sources.

Doctors recommending opioids to their patients could very easily make mistakes that have dangerous implications for someone’s health. Often, the way doctors handle opioid prescriptions may deviate from best practices. Doctors ignore recommendations by employers and professional organizations for efficiency and convenience.

The end result may be a negative medical outcome for a patient. The deviation from best practices could constitute medical malpractice. The following are three of the most common mistakes involving opioid drugs that might constitute malpractice.

Prescribing unnecessary opioids

Opioids are incredibly strong drugs. Oxycodone, for example, is two to three times stronger than codeine. Often, patients presenting with pain might require a less risky medical intervention, like prescription ibuprofen. Other times, alternate treatments, like muscle relaxants, could be a viable option. Prescribing opioids puts a patient at risk of dependence and overdose, making it important that doctors only recommend opioids when it is necessary to do so.

Over-prescribing necessary medication

Even if a patient needs opioids due to the level of pain that they experience, a doctor needs to be cautious about how much they prescribe. Over-prescribing can come in many forms. A physician might recommend a dose that is too strong given someone’s overall medical condition. They might write a prescription for too many pills at once or offer someone too many refills without another appointment. Over-prescribing may lead to someone abusing their medication when they no longer require it or reselling their medication to others on the unregulated market.

Cutting patients off abruptly

Even when a patient carefully adheres to a physician’s recommendations, they can become dependent on opioid drugs. If they attempt to stop taking the medication abruptly, they might experience withdrawal symptoms. A doctor should monitor a patient as they taper off of opioids. The failure to do so could be a major mistake. Desperate patients might then seek out opioids or other narcotics on the unregulated market to self-medicate or avoid withdrawal symptoms.

A failure to properly oversee a patient’s treatment when they require narcotic pain relievers is, potentially, a dangerous form of medical malpractice. Holding a physician accountable for the impact of their negligent prescribing habits could compensate the people affected and change how that doctor practices medicine.