As an ideal, medicine is a partnership: a patient brings their unique knowledge of their body and their symptoms; the doctor brings their training and experience in practice. With the information provided by the patient, the doctor's observations, and any tests that have been run, the doctor prescribes the best course of treatment and the patient follows it. Of course, as we all know, things don't often go this perfectly. Patients may neglect to report symptoms they don't think are important or may not disclose information they think would make them look bad. And while most doctors intend to do the best for their patients, they may be influenced, even unconsciously, by factors other than the patient's best interests. This can lead to doctors overprescribing oxycodone and other pain medication.
If you are undergoing treatment for pain, and your doctor has prescribed oxycodone or some other opioid medication, here are some things you should know.
In many cases, prescribing Oxycodone is a perfectly reasonable thing to do. If a patient is in pain, and Oxycodone is the best medication to ease that pain for a limited period of time, and the doctor is not aware of any potential problems with the prescription and advises the patient properly, then all should be well. Again, however, what should happen is often not what does happen. There are a number of ways a doctor could prescribe Oxycodone in a way that would constitute medical malpractice.
One especially egregious way is if the doctor knows, or should know, that the patient has a history of addiction. The patient may be a recovering addict, and the patient's pain in the present time may be very real and legitimate, but past addiction is a huge red flag. A reasonable doctor would not prescribe a highly addictive medication to a patient with a history of addiction, and doing so could cause serious damage to the patient. That is the definition of medical malpractice.
Another possible scenario is if the doctor prescribes the medication in large amounts, for an extended period of time, or without seeing the patient. Such medications should be prescribed only in the amounts needed for acute pain management, and should be carefully monitored. In other words, a reasonable doctor would not prescribe a patient a three-month supply of a high-dose opioid and send them on their merry way. A more reasonable course of treatment would be for the doctor to meet a patient, take a thorough health history, prescribe a short course of Oxycodone if indicated, follow up to assess how treatment is working, and refer to a pain management specialist long-term if needed.
Why do doctors overprescribe Oxycodone? There are a variety of reasons. Many doctors are under pressure to receive high patient satisfaction scores from the health care organizations they work for. Sending a patient away without medication to manage their pain could jeopardize that. There are darker reasons: one physician who refused to prescribe addictive pain meds to a new patient was later shot to death by the patient's enraged husband. Some doctors may have a profit motive. And others may feel that quickly writing a prescription is simply the quickest way to move along an overwhelming caseload.
If your doctor, or a loved one's doctor, inappropriately prescribed Oxycodone, which led to addiction or other health problems, you may have recourse through a medical malpractice. Doctors do not have liability for every addiction. But if your doctor prescribed when a reasonable physician would not have, you may be able to get compensation that would help cover the costs of treatment and recovery. The only way to know if you might be eligible is to speak with an experienced medical malpractice attorney.
A free consultation with an attorney will help you know what direction to take. The facts of your case will determine whether your doctor may have committed malpractice. If there is a potential claim, it must be made within a very limited period of time. A qualified medical malpractice attorney will let you know what to expect from litigation so that you can make an informed decision whether to pursue a case.
Addiction is a lifelong struggle that nobody asks for. If your doctor subjected you to the risk of addiction unnecessarily, contact our law office to learn your options.
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The information in this blog post is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. You should not make a decision whether or not to contact a qualified medical malpractice attorney based upon the information in this blog post. No attorney-client relationship is formed nor should any such relationship be implied. If you require legal advice, please consult with a competent medical malpractice attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.
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