You may be able to sue your doctor for over-prescribing benzodiazepine if it caused you or a loved one to suffer injuries.
The Definition of Benzodiazepines
Commonly called “benzos,” benzodiazepines are Schedule IV substances known for their calming and sedative properties. When used as directed, benzos can help treat problems like muscle spasms, insomnia, seizures, and anxiety.
Some common benzos on the market include:
- Valium (diazepam)
- Xanax (alprazolam)
- Klonopin (clonazepam)
- Ativan (Iorazepam)
- Restoril (temazepam)
Unfortunately, the way benzos affect the brain to enact their positive effects also makes them highly addictive. Patients who use too large a dose, take doses too often, or who take the recommended dose for longer than intended can quickly develop tolerance, dependence, and addiction.
Benzo Addiction and Withdrawal
Benzos react to neurotransmitters in the brain called GABAs. These neurotransmitters are typically responsible for managing the body’s stress levels, muscle tension, and similar functions. Benzos force these GABAs to work more efficiently than usual, which creates an increased sense of calm and peacefulness in the user.
As someone continues to take benzos, the brain adapts to the medication’s presence in such a way that it needs more and more of the drug to achieve the same effects. Worse, the brain learns to crave the presence of benzos and will begin to experience withdrawal symptoms when the drug is not present in the system.
Once withdrawal symptoms present themselves, it can take years for the brain to adjust its chemistry to stop craving the drug. Some examples of common withdrawal signs include:
- Mood swings
- Seizures that will not stop (status epilepticus)
Medical Negligence and Benzodiazepines
Your doctor or healthcare provider can be liable if you can demonstrate that he or she acted with negligence when writing you a benzo prescription. To prove negligence, we must establish that:
- The doctor had a duty of care toward you, as all doctors have toward their patients
- The doctor failed to act in a manner consistent with what another doctor of similar skill and experience would have done when placed in the same situation
- This failure caused or contributed to your injuries
Proving Medical Negligence
The most effective way to demonstrate medical negligence is through the use of expert witnesses. These are individuals with specialized knowledge related to your case. They will provide evidence and testimony that establishes what a reasonable doctor would have done in the same situation as yours. They will also show where your doctor failed to behave according to this established medical standard of care.
Some examples of medical negligence include:
- Prescribing benzos when an alternative treatment with less risk and equitable effectiveness was available
- Failing to inquire about the patient’s medical history
- Failing to ask about the patient’s past as it pertains to addiction and substance abuse
- Failing to notice any signs of benzodiazepine addiction
- Prescribing too strong of a dose
- Writing a prescription that provided too many doses or too many refills
There are several other examples of medical negligence. A medical malpractice lawyer can go over the details of your case and discuss the compensation that may be available to you.
We May Be Able to Help
Doctors and healthcare providers have a responsibility to write prescriptions that are accurate, effective, and right for the patient being treated. If you or a loved one were over-prescribed benzodiazepines and suffered a brain injury or other harm, we may be able to help. Call Pintas & Mullins today at 888-808-5977 for a free consultation.