Siegal & RichardsonLLP

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Medical negligence might contribute to an opioid addiction

Patient pain control is a priority for many practitioners. Unfortunately, this can lead to the medical professional offering drugs that have addictive properties. One class of drugs that fall into this category is opioid medications.

There is a fine line that doctors have to find when they are considering prescribing pain medications that are addictive. They need to provide enough to help the patient, but not so much that the person becomes dependent. As difficult as this might be, there are ways that this can be done.

Stop overprescribing these addictive drugs

Even though patients might balk at having to return to the office to receive more pain medication, it is a good practice for doctors to limit the number of pills to the bare minimum the patient may need. This gives the prescribing physician a chance to check for signs of dependency if the patient's body is becoming accustomed to the drugs.

The reason opioids are so addictive is because they trigger the release of endorphins. Taking the same drug repeatedly causes a tolerance. This means the body stops producing the endorphins that make the person feel good. They will need more of the opioid to produce these neurochemicals to make themselves feel good again.

When doctors notice the issue and stop prescribing the drugs, some patients will turn to illegal methods to get them. This is problematic because the drugs might be laced with other substances that can can be deleterious for the patient.

When medical negligence exists

A big concern about opioids is that some doctors prescribe them without concern for the addictive properties. As patients up the dosages they take, which might be done at will due to an abundant prescription, serious health concerns come into the picture. These drugs can cause slowed breathing and decreased oxygen to the brain. Hypoxia is a concern, which can lead to death, brain damage or a coma. If the patient survives, the effects can be permanent. Doctors and pharmacists must be vigilant about explaining the risks to patients who are receiving these drugs.

Whether a patient is able to survive and overcome an opioid addiction depends on the specific circumstances of the case. If they are able to and medical negligence was a factor, they might choose to seek compensation. This can help to cover to the costs associated with the detrimental health issues they endured, as well as the expenses related to breaking the addiction.

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