Can I Sue My Doctor for Enabling an Addiction to Pain Medication?

The abuse and addiction rates of opioids and pain relievers is a serious issue that affects the health, economic and social welfare within our society. There were an estimated 2.1 million people in the U.S. who suffer from an addiction to pain medication in 2012 and approximately 467,000 people addicted to heroin, which is often used as a substitute once the addict no longer has access to prescription pain medication.

Part of why this epidemic has grown so rapidly is because of physicians overprescribing opioid medication to patients carelessly, enabling addicts and creating a way for already vulnerable injured people to become addicted.

If You Develop an Addiction to Pain Medication, Who is at Fault?

More often than not, pain medication created from opium, such as Percocet, OxyContin, Vicodin, Dilaudid and hydrocodone, are prescribed to patients in intense pain from either workplace injuries or painful medical procedures. On average, approximately 4.5 percent of patients become addicted to the pain medication they are prescribed, which considering how many prescriptions are written every year, is a significant number. So, when a patient does become addicted, who is at fault? Sure, there is such thing as people who are predisposed to addictive behaviors. But, it is the doctor’s responsibility to keep those in check and not create addictive habits.

In order to prove a doctor acted negligently in prescribing pain medication and created a dangerous and painful situation for their patient, the following must be proven:

  • The doctor must have prescribed an incorrect dose or the wrong medication altogether
  • The doctor failed to give correct dosage instructions, such as instructing the patient to take more medication within a smaller time frame
  • The doctor failed to recognize dangerous and addictive combinations with other drugs
  • The label for the medication was incorrect
  • The doctor failed to answer questions and counsel the patient on how to properly administer a drug or failed to address side effects, such as addiction
  • The doctor failed to inquire about patient history

Whether for profit, not noticing details, failing to address patient history or deliberately overprescribing, doctors can be held responsible for creating the perfect storm to start an addiction in patients and ruin their lives.

Stanley A. Davis is a Nashville medical malpractice attorney who fights for those who have suffered do to medical malpractice

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it. Therefore, my dear friends, flee from idolatry.” Corinthians 10:13-14