Recently, the Chattanooga Times Free Press published an article on the significant increase in prescription drug overdoses, particularly among women. Although this is a problem throughout the country, Tennessee has one of the worst rates of prescription drug abuse among all the states, for both women and men.
When people suffer from a prescription drug overdose, which can result in death or serious health complications, does the responsibility lie solely with them? Or are there circumstances where the medical establishment is also responsible for the fatal or otherwise severe abuse of prescription drugs?
Consider the following issues:
- In recent years, there’s been a significant increase in narcotics prescriptions, even for relatively minor health issues such as back pain. Though narcotics are addictive and should be prescribed with caution, doctors sometimes ignore clinical protocols and prescribe them for problems that may not warrant their use. In 2010 in Tennessee, hundreds of people got admitted to drug abuse treatment programs for opiate addiction, chiefly due to prescription drug misuse. How many got exposed to addictive drugs unnecessarily, through irresponsible prescription practices?
- When doctors prescribe drugs, they should look into the patient’s health history and check what drugs they’ve previously been on, along with whether there’s a history of drug abuse.
- Doctors and other health care professionals should discuss the dangers of the drugs they prescribe in great detail, cautioning about the risk of overdose, monitoring their patients’ use of a drug, and advising them to immediately seek assistance for side effects and symptoms of an overdose.
Last year, Tennessee enacted regulations that require doctors to check a database that would provide them with information about patients’ prescription drug history; the state has also contacted thousands of doctors who hand out relatively high numbers of prescriptions, so as to get more insight into their medical reasoning.
Hopefully, these government efforts will have a beneficial effect. In addition, if you suspect that medical negligence has contributed to a prescription drug abuse problem, including an overdose, discuss your concerns with Chattanooga personal injury lawyers. Patients place their well-being in the hands of doctors who should select the treatment that’s truly best for them and doesn’t endanger them unnecessarily; doctors should also provide patients with all the information they need to stay safe. When you contact us, we’ll review your situation carefully and give you advice on how to proceed.