The opioid epidemic is killing tens of thousands of Americans and leaving many more unable to work. Congress, federal agencies, and the White House make noises every now and then about how serious the problem is, but they don’t seem all that interested in finding policy solutions.
So, states and counties are seeking their own solutions by filing lawsuits against pharmaceutical companies and prescribers.
Individual patients are filing lawsuits, as well – and juries appear to be responsive. If you or a loved one have been harmed by an opioid prescriber’s negligence, call your SC medical malpractice attorney immediately.
Can I Sue a Doctor or Hospital for Over-Prescribing Pain Meds?
An appeals court recently upheld a jury’s $15 million verdict against a doctor and hospital in a case involving the over-prescription of opioid painkillers.
Dr. Henry Walden prescribed Brian Koon more than 13 times the daily dose of opioid medications considered safe and appropriate by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). At one point, Walden had Koon taking three different opioids – Vicodin, Oxycontin, and oxycodone – at the same time.
Not surprisingly, Koon wound up addicted to the pills, living in a “zombie-like” state, and spending time in a drug rehabilitation clinic.
The jury awarded Koon $1.4 million and his wife, Michelle, $1.2 million in compensatory damages, and $15 million in punitive damages.
How Bad Is the Opioid Problem?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the number of opioid overdose deaths in 2016 – 42,248 – was five times higher than in 1999. South Carolina is among the states struggling with a significant increase in opioid addiction and overdose deaths, and Horry County saw more opioid deaths- 101 – than any other SC county in 2016.
Treatment vs. Malpractice
What’s the difference between legitimate prescriptions for pain relief and over-prescribing for profit?
For many doctors, opioids are invaluable tools that help them to provide their patients with what they need – relief from debilitating pain. For people dealing with chronic pain that – when untreated – prevents them from working, holding their children in their arms, or even getting out of bed, opioids allow them to continue functioning.
But they are highly addictive, and doctors and other prescribers have a duty to not cause their patients harm. When doctors like Walden prescribe far more pills than any reasonable doctor would consider safe, it’s negligence.
To recover damages in an opioid malpractice case, we will need to prove that your doctor caused significant harm because they failed to provide a level of care that another professional in the same field would have used.
Usually, we will need to recruit medical experts who practice in the same specialty as your doctor who can explain what the appropriate level of care would look like, how your doctor’s behavior fell short of that standard, and how that failure caused harm to you.
So, we will need to find out all we can about your medical condition, the treatment your doctor provided, and how that affected you. We will:
- Gather your medical records, which often involves collecting reports from multiple sources.
- Have specialists in the same field as your doctor examine the records and determine if your doctor failed to provide a reasonable level of care or was negligent.
- Get those experts to sign an affidavit of merit identifying at least one instance of negligence that caused harm to you.
- After investigating your case, file a lawsuit if we are able to prove negligence and if we are able to prove damages in an amount that will justify the expense of the lawsuit.
If you have been suffering from the effects of over-prescribed pain meds, the first step is to get help from an addiction specialist.
In some cases, we may be able to recover damages for you from the doctor or hospital that caused your condition. Call an experienced Myrtle Beach Medical Malpractice Lawyer on the Axelrod team now at (843) 916-9300 or by filling out our contact form to find out if you have a case.