Opioid Painkillers and Malpractice ClaimsNovember 7, 2017
It is no secret that the opioid epidemic in this country is a major problem. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 33,000 of the 52,000 fatal drug overdoses in 2015 were from opioids. Since the early ‘90s, there has been a rise of nearly three times more prescription pain medication options available, including drugs like Vicodin, Percocet, and OxyContin.
Unfortunately, patients taking these powerful medications are not always closely monitored, which can lead to problems like addiction and overdose. This has had a significant impact on the number of medical malpractice claims that have been filed in recent years.
According to a new study by Coverys, a medical liability insurer, errors related to opioid pain medications account for more medical malpractice claims than any other class of drug. Researchers analyzed over 10,000 closed malpractice claims between 2012 and 2016, and found that the effects of the opioid abuse epidemic are widespread.
QuintilesIMS, a firm that tracks pharmaceutical activity, found that opioids accounted for 24 percent of medication-related claims, even though only five percent of prescription drugs dispensed in 2016 were opioids. Anticoagulants ranked second on the list of riskiest drugs with 14 percent of medication-related claims. Robert Hanscom, Vice President of Business Analytics at Coverys, said that in most of the claims involving prescription opioids, patients eventually overdosed.
Lack of Follow-Up Care Contributes to Rise in Claims
Hanscom found that more than one-third of the opioid-related claims resulted from a medical mistake in the follow-up phase. A physician may continue to refill the prescription without monitoring the patient’s condition, level of pain, or any other clinical changes.
If a patient does not improve and continues to experience the same degree of pain, prescribing the same medication is not going to help the patient, said Hanscom. Unfortunately, too often physicians are swayed by persuasive patients who want their prescription refilled. This willingness to allow patients to cloud their judgment accounts for 15 percent of opioid-related claims.
Baltimore Medical Malpractice Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Advocate for Victims of Medical Negligence
If you or a loved one has been overprescribed an opiod drug by a physician, or has suffered from any other medical condition after being prescribed an opioid pain medication, contact a Baltimore medical malpractice lawyer at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.
Our offices are located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie, and Towson, allowing us to represent medical malpractice victims in Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland, and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood, and Elkridge.