Learn everything you need to know about opioid addiction, including how to prove medical negligence, damages and compensation, and when to call an attorney.
Doctors routinely prescribe opioids for pain management. But as the opioid crises ravaging many parts of the United States and the developed world shows, it seems medical practitioners have been too enthusiastic in doling out opioid medications.
If you think your doctor was negligent in prescribing the pills, you can sue for opiate addiction. But you will have to prove that the physician acted contrary to established standards for prescribing potentially addictive medications.
If you can prove negligence, you can sue your doctor for medical malpractice.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice is the failure of a health care provider to exercise the level of care and skill expected of his/her specialty, considering the advances in the profession and resources available to treat the patient.
In essence, medical malpractice is directly related to medical negligence, and it is a punishable offense for which you can claim compensation.
But proving your doctor failed to meet the established medical standard of care while treating you can be difficult.
How to Prove Medical Negligence
If you are filing a medical malpractice lawsuit for opiate addiction, your lawyer must obtain and analyze all your medical records spanning the period in which the physician prescribed the addictive medication.
Often, this requires the services of a medical expert witness who reviews your medical records to determine whether the doctor didn’t meet the applicable standard of care. Besides your medical history, here are things the medical expert witness will consider:
- Your diagnosis
- Your symptoms, including pain and discomfort which justify the prescription of pain management drugs like opioids.
- Your physician’s objective medical findings
- Your doctor’s experience in managing your condition
- The position of the medical literature and textbooks on the management of your condition
In an opiate addiction case, you have to prove that your condition is related to something about the doctor’s prescription.
This can be the type of drug, the dosage, and the doctor’s failure to notice you are becoming addicted to the drug. Then you need to establish that these failures amounted to a breach of duty of care you deserve as a patient.
In some cases, you can also sue the pharmacist or hospital associated with your physician.
Elements of Negligence Cases
Opioid addiction cases are filed as medical negligence. Negligence cases are built upon four elements, including:
- Duty: You have to prove that the doctor failed in their duty to provide the standard care due to you as a patient.
- Breach: The doctor’s conduct must be in breach of established treatment procedures for the condition which the opioid prescription was supposed to manage.
- Causation: You need to establish that the over-prescription of opioid medication caused your opiate addiction.
- Harm: You also have to show that the doctor’s negligence caused you harm. It might be a loss of livelihood, family troubles, mental issues, and others.
If the four elements can be established, you can file a complete claim for opiate addiction and ask for compensations.
What If You Had Addiction Problems Previously?
If you’ve struggled with narcotics or other addictive prescriptions drugs in the past, this can complicate your opiate addiction claims.
It is clear that prescribing a potentially addictive medication to someone who has struggled with addiction in the past is a negligent and dangerous decision. Most doctors won’t do it because they know the professional and legal implications.
But the health care provider may not be liable if you didn’t inform them of your history with these drugs.
However, the doctor will likely be considered negligent if they still prescribed opioids despite knowing of your addiction problems.
Damages for Opiate Addiction
If the court finds the doctor guilty of negligence in your opioid addiction case, you can claim monetary compensation and injunctive damages for the harms you suffered.
Courts in Ohio and other places in the United States have awarded billions of dollars in compensation to the victims of opiate addiction.
They’ve also sanctioned erring medical professionals, including punishment such as prison sentences and license withdrawals, among others.
Get a Lawyer
If you think your health care provider’s negligence contributed to your opioid addiction, talk to a legal professional who is experienced in medical malpractice matters.
Medical negligence is complicated and difficult to prove. You will need all the help you can get.