Doctors can be held accountable for a patient’s narcotic addiction. However, like all actions taken by medical professionals, the conditions must meet some criteria to be considered medical malpractice. The individual against whom the medical malpractice is claimed should have a duty to the individual claiming it.
What Constitutes Medical Malpractice?
To be considered a malpractice, that duty must be breached. In some way, the doctor should violate or fail to fulfill that duty to a patient. Another condition is that the patients should have suffered harm. This harm must have been caused by the physician’s breach of duty.
If a physician treats you, you already have a relationship that forms a duty. You have already suffered damage and harm if you have a narcotic addiction. The challenge involves proving that your doctor breached that duty of care in a way and maybe linking the breach of duty with your injury.
How Doctors Breach Their Duty of Care When Prescribing Narcotics
It’s the doctor’s work to prescribe medication for a patient. Additionally, it's ok to prescribe narcotics or such drugs won't be available. Unfortunately, a doctor prescribing legal medicine can become a breach of their work as medical doctors. Generally, there are five circumstances whereby a doctor’s prescription of narcotics might be considered medical malpractice.
1. Prescribing narcotic medications when they are not indicated
There are various ways this can occur. The physician might prescribe the narcotics to a patient with a history of drug-seeking habits or drug addiction. That’s why it's important for doctors to read through the patient’s health history before administering any treatment. On the other hand, narcotics would have been ideal at first, but the physician may have continued prescribing them for longer than required, resulting in addiction.
2. Prescribing incorrect medicine
A doctor has the legal duty to offer a standard of care anticipated by a reasonably skilled and professional practitioner. This duty comprises correctly diagnosing a patient's condition and prescribing proper medication. This will not only result in addiction but also result in risky overdoses that might cause hospitalization and even death.
3. Excessive dose of the correct medicine
Unfortunately, since the prescription of narcotics for chronic nonmalignant pain is widespread, it can be difficult to argue that a physician prescribing the medication violated a standard of care. The key concern in such a situation is if a well-trained health practitioner, under a similar situation, would have prescribed the proper dose of the narcotics.
If it's established that the doctor deviated from this standard of patient care, the groundwork for a malpractice case is established. Medical doctors must follow proper protocol for medicine prescriptions and maintain accurate medical reports. Deviating from the set protocols and failing to document the drug properly will strengthen the case for medical negligence.
4. Failure to warn a patient of the risks
Failing to warn a patient of the health risks of a narcotic medication can be considered medical malpractice. Another situation is where a doctor prescribes the medication when the patient’s health history indicates a risk of addiction. Doctors must offer informed consent. That includes offering patients the required information to make informed decisions about their condition. A practitioner must inform patients about the possible risks and side effects of using narcotic medication.
Monitoring is another situation where narcotic prescription can be a medical malpractice. It's irresponsible of a doctor to prescribe narcotics to a patient and send them home. To address unexpected issues with the medicine or prevent withdrawal problems, physicians must always monitor their patients.
What You Need to Do
It's essential to hold those physicians who are reckless and negligent physicians liable for the suffering and pain they cause patients. If you think your physician inappropriately prescribed narcotics for you or your loved one, or did not offer proper monitoring, call a professional medical malpractice lawyer like The Tinker Law Firm PLLC for consultation.
Addiction destroys families, health, reputations, and relationships. An ethical and experienced lawyer will help you discern if you have a viable case against the doctor whose actions resulted in your problems. A professional medical malpractice lawyer will help you assess your case and pursue a claim. The lawyer will promptly assist you in filing a lawsuit so that you do not lose the right to the settlement you might deserve.