Are Doctors Allowed to Prescribe Opioids to Treat Pain Without Facing Legal Sanctions?
Doctors in many states must now follow new guidelines when prescribing opioids for pain relief. Florida, Michigan, and Tennessee are among a growing number of states that are tightening standards on prescriptions for oxycodone (OxyContin®), hydrocodone (Vicodin®), and other well-known opioids.
New Regulations for Prescribing Opioids
The new laws vary from state to state. In Florida, the guidelines include a three- and a seven-day limit on the prescription of opioids for acute pain. According to The Orlando Sentinel, the law also requires that healthcare providers follow drug monitoring guidelines before writing opioid prescriptions for patients age 16 and older. There is a state database designed to prevent patients from getting multiple opioid prescriptions from several healthcare providers.
Healthcare providers who do not follow these guidelines are penalized per state medical boards. In at least one case, a California doctor was found guilty of murder and sentenced to federal prison.
Sanctions Do Not Include Compensation for Medical Malpractice Victims
Florida and other states with tightened restrictions on prescription opioids hope that the new laws will reduce skyrocketing abuse and overdose rates. The National Institute on Drug Addiction reports that an average of 130 Americans die each day from opioid overdoses. In 2017, there were more than 47,000 fatalities associated with opioid overdose, including prescription and illegal drugs, such as heroin.
As opioid overdose lawyers, we have seen firsthand how opioid abuse and addiction can destroy a patient physically, emotionally, and financially. However, these sanctions do not help people who were injured or affected by improperly prescribed opioids. They do not provide compensation for damages, including medical bills, pain and suffering, and wrongful death.
An Opioid Overdose Lawyer Can Help Victims and Their Families
Doctors and other healthcare providers must provide a standard of care that prevents harm to their patients. When this standard of care is violated, patients often suffer physical, emotional, or financial injuries. An opioid overdose lawyer can help patients and their families recover damages for losses such as medical bills and mental anguish
You should keep in mind that seeking compensation for damages is a civil action. While a medically negligent healthcare provider may face separate criminal charges, this action does not help victims recover damages. You will also want to contact a law firm that accepts medical malpractice cases. They know medical liability laws, statutes of limitations, and other important resources.
Proving Medical Negligence in an Opioid Abuse or Overdose
A medical malpractice lawyer mustshow that a healthcare provider or facility is negligent before seeking compensation.Several conditions include:
- Your medical provider is expected to deliver a safe and responsible level of care.
- You (or a family member) did not receive this expected level of care.
- You suffered physical or mental injuries as a result.
- There are significant damages from these injuries (for example, medical bills or pain and suffering).
In some cases, there could be more than one at-fault party. A lawyer will examine the circumstances and individuals involved in prescribing opioids for pain. There is also the possibility that a healthcare provider made an error in the underlying medical condition.
Three kinds of liability could be applied to an opioid medical malpractice claim or lawsuit:
- Direct liability holds a defendant responsible for either reckless or malignant actions that led to injuries and damages.
- Vicarious liability refers to a specific relationship between the defendant and another party.
- Respondeat Superior holds the defendant’s employer accountable.
Compensatory Damages in a Medical Malpractice Case
There are two kinds of compensatory damages: special and general. You can also think of these in terms of economic and noneconomic. There is a third type of damage, called punitive. Punitive damages are not typically sought in a medical malpractice lawsuit unless there is gross negligence.
If you or a loved one was harmed by opioids that were improperly prescribed or checked, you could seek compensation for both special and general damages. To be more specific, these damages are:
Special (Economic) Damages
- Medical bills
- Lifecare services
- Loss of income, benefits, annuities, and other financial support
General (Non-economic) Damages
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship
- Mental anguish
You or a Loved One Could Qualify for Compensation
Doctors who prescribe opioids for pain face legal sanctions. They also may be found negligent and held accountable for compensation. You or a loved one might be entitled to recover damages. For a free, no-obligation consultation, please contact the law firm of Newsome Melton at (855) 633-2757.
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