What Is Accidental Prescription Drug Overdose?
When the general public thinks of accidental prescription drug overdoses, there’s a misconception that all overdoses are caused by an addict who is willingly abusing drugs. While some accidental prescription drug overdoses are caused by people with addictions who either obtain the drugs illegally or abuse a valid prescription, a frightening number of overdoses occur because of medical error, either on the part of the prescribing physician, the hospital, or the pharmacist.
Instances of accidental prescription drug overdose often leave the family of the victim confused and angry. Questions like “how is it possible for a patient to overdose on a medication prescribed by a doctor,” and “how could the pharmacy have made such a fatal error in filling the prescription” are common. As a society, we presume that drugs given to us by medical professionals are safe and will improve our health, not lead to potentially lethal overdoses.
To make things worse, the number of accidental prescription overdoses has been steadily rising. As the opioid crisis tightens its grip on our nation, more medical professionals are being held accountable for irresponsibly prescribing addictive and potentially lethal medications that aren’t medically necessary.
While accidental prescription overdoses can occur for a number of reasons, sadly the outcome is often the tragic loss of a loved one.
Why accidental prescription overdoses occur
Prescription drug overdoses that are caused by medical error are becoming increasingly common and, as more individuals fall victim to faulty practices, families seek to hold medical professionals responsible and recover damages in accidental prescription overdose lawsuits.
There are a number of errors that a medical professional or hospital could make that could lead to an accidental patient overdose.
The doctor may have mistakenly prescribed a medication that has a bad interaction with another prescription the patient currently takes, or prescribed a medication that has an adverse effect on a medical condition that the patient suffers from (such as high blood pressure or kidney disease.) The physician may have made a mistake when writing the prescription—such as the wrong dosage or quantity—or when giving directions for use to the patient. Less often, some medical practitioners operate what are commonly referred to as “pill mills”: medical practices that irresponsibly prescribe strong medications (like addictive painkillers) to patients without cause or medical necessity.
Patients can also accidentally overdose if an error was made by the pharmacy that filled the prescription. The wrong medication may have been provided, or the right medication with the wrong directions for use, without the patient being aware of the error.
Medical professionals are held to high standards of duty and professional responsibility because of the seriousness of their work. However, physicians, pharmacists, and other medical professionals are human, and make mistakes or fail to uphold the standards of the medical profession by running “pill mills.”
Help for prescription drug overdose victims
If you or a loved one has been a victim of medical error that lead to overdose or death, you are entitled to be compensated for your loss and your expenses. We can help you determine whether you have a cause of action against a medical professional or hospital. For experienced and compassionate representation, please contact our office today to schedule your initial consultation.