Opioids are a common form of pain-relieving drug for Americans. However, many people who start taking these painkillers become addicted to them.
Unfortunately, Ohio leads the nation as one of the top five states for opioid overdose deaths — prescription or illicit — with 29.9 deaths per 100,000 people in 2015. That’s 3,310 people who died that year alone.
U.S. doctors are by far the number-one prescribers of narcotics in the world. Painkillers are prescribed to those who have undergone surgery, dental treatment, and many types of medical procedures.
The use of opioids in Ohio has become somewhat commonplace, and is almost expected by people when they suffer any type of pain symptoms. Here’s what you need to know to ensure that you are being safe with your prescriptions, as well as what to do if a doctor has made an error in prescribing a drug to you.
Opiate Prescriptions and Ohio Law
Opiates are generally useful as strong painkillers. A recent NPR-Truven Health Analytics poll found that more than half of adults have been prescribed an opioid painkiller at some time in their lives. Most, about 74%, were provided due to an acute need, such as after medical or dental surgery. Chronic pain was the reason for opioid use for 19% of those surveyed.
Heroin is a street opiate, which may be used by those who become addicted through a prescription painkiller. Narcan is a form of naloxone, which can block the effects of an opioid overdose if administered quickly. Many law enforcement departments and others now carry this medication to help reduce the number of deaths due to overdose, which have quadrupled since 1999, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In response to the rising number of opioid overdose deaths, Ohio legislators enacted laws limiting the amount of drugs doctors can prescribe. (Ohio Revised Code 3719). A Prescription Drug Monitoring Program also is place, called the Ohio Automated Rx Reporting System. Overseen by the Ohio State Board of Pharmacy, it’s designed to collect and record important details about prescription medications administered in the state. The program helps track prescriptions so that providers may review a patient’s data when determining how to handle a patient’s medication. It also keeps patients from “doctor shopping” to obtain the medications they want.
Despite all this, the number of overdoses has not been impacted, and Ohio even saw a 21.5% increase in opioid deaths between 2014 and 2015.
Errors in Administration of Prescription Medications
Doctors and other medical professionals must follow the law when prescribing all medications. They must also take care to ensure that they assess the benefits to the risks, and disclose any potential side effects to the patient. If your doctor failed to take the proper steps to protect you and you were severely harmed, you may be able to hold the doctor liable.
Mistakes are all too common an occurrence in medical treatment in the United States. Errors in medical treatment cause an estimated 250,000 deaths each year, making mistakes the third-most common cause of death. Medication mistakes are included in this figure. Doctors and pharmacists have a duty to provide proper care to patients. Their failure to do so could be considered negligence if a serious injury or death resulted from their mistake.
Prescription medications must be taken according to manufacturer instructions. Most medications have side effects, some of which are very severe. One of the most serious problems associated with some medications is the risk of addiction. Once addicted, patients have difficulty stopping their intake, causing a negative impact on their lives. Another risk of prescription medications is an interaction with another medication that is being taken at the same time. Doctors and pharmacists must be careful to verify all other medications that a patient is taking in order to determine any potential negative interactions.
Once prescriptions are provided to patients, they, or their caregivers, are responsible for proper administration. Patients may take the incorrect amount of medication or they may intentionally abuse the drug. Caregivers may provide the wrong dose of a drug, which could cause an overdose. If a care provider administers an incorrect dosage and the patient is harmed, the provider could be responsible for his or her negligent action.
Patients who need pain medication must work with their doctors to discuss treatment options. Doctors must make patients aware of the side effects as well as the addiction risks involved in taking many of prescription medications. Patients should weigh their options before they choose the type of treatment they should receive. Whenever possible, patients should take the lowest dose of the least addictive type of drug available for their particular treatment.
Contact a Medical Negligence Attorney Today
If a patient is harmed because of the negligence of a medical professional, he or she may be entitled to compensation. Those who were hurt may take legal action to obtain the costs of medical bills and other damages that were incurred. Damages could also include such things as lost wages and rehabilitative care.
Here at Plevin & Gallucci, we have experienced medical negligence attorneys who can review your case for free. Contact us today by calling 1-855-4-PLEVIN or filling out our quick, online case evaluation form.