A doctor can be held liable for brain injuries caused by opioid prescription if he or she is shown to have been negligent in issuing the prescription.
Brain Injuries Caused by Opioid Use
Like all opiates, prescription opioids are depressants. This means they slow down certain body functions, including respiration and heart rate. Maintaining abnormally shallow breathing for a prolonged period of time can lead to a hypoxic brain injury stemming from brain cell death due to a lack of sufficient oxygen.
The most severe opioid-related brain injuries occur during instances of an opioid overdose. In these situations, the victim may lose consciousness or fall into a coma-like state where their body forgets how to breathe properly. This restriction in the supply of oxygen available to the body can harm its major organs and lead to permanent brain damage in as few as five minutes.
Medical Malpractice and Negligence During Opioid Prescription
Opioid medications are extremely effective at reducing pain, but they carry an inherent risk of addiction, dependency, and abuse. When a doctor prescribes opioids in situations where other, safer alternatives could do the job equally well, or when a doctor is reckless with the amount of medication he or she prescribes, he or she could be held liable for brain injuries that occur as a result of their patient’s opioid use.
Proving Medical Malpractice and Negligence
A healthcare provider can be sued for medical malpractice if negligence can be proven. To do this, the plaintiff must show that:
- The medical provider had a duty of care toward their patient
- The medical provider violated this duty by failing to act in a manner consistent with what an average medical provider of commensurate skill would have done in the same situation and with the same information
- The medical provider’s violation of duty led to your injuries
- These injuries resulted in financial losses and other damages
Proving Medical Negligence in the Prescription of Opioids
There are many ways that a doctor’s negligence might have contributed to the brain injuries caused by opioid prescription:
- Unnecessary prescription— If your pain or other injury can be treated equally well with less risky medications, your doctor may be guilty of negligence if he or she do not disclose these alternatives to you before prescribing opioids.
- Overprescription— If you are prescribed opioids that are stronger than necessary to control your pain or other underlying issues, your doctor may be found negligent. Your doctor should only be prescribing the lowest effective dosage. For reference, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that doctors carefully reassess risks when prescribing a dose of more than 50 morphine milligram equivalents (MME) per day and should generally avoid prescribing more than 90 MME per day.
- Length of prescription— If you are prescribed a supply of opioids that exceeds the amount of medication needed to treat your condition effectively, this behavior could be considered negligent.
- Failure to consider relevant medical history— If you disclosed previous opioid prescriptions to your doctor and this was not factored into your doctor’s consideration of whether to write you a new opioid prescription, that behavior could be considered negligent.
- Failure to consider history of addiction and drug abuse— If you disclosed previous or ongoing instances of drug abuse or addiction, your doctor is obliged to factor that information into their assessment before writing you a new opioid prescription. If he or she do not, your doctor may be found negligent.
These are not the only ways in which a medical provider could be found guilty of negligence. A brain injury lawyer can help review the details of your case and give you a better idea of whether you or your loved one may be eligible for compensation for brain injuries caused by opioid prescription.
How an Attorney Can Help
A medical malpractice lawyer can help you collect the evidence you will need to build a strong case that establishes your doctor’s negligence and supports your claim for compensation. We also provide expert witnesses who will demonstrate how the care provided by your doctor fell short of the actions a reasonable doctor would have taken in the same situation. We can handle every step of the process for you, so you can focus on spending time with your family.
Call Today for a Free Consultation
If you or a loved one suffered a brain injury caused by opioid prescription, the team at Newsome | Melton may be able to help. We can protect your rights. Call (866) 611-BASC today for a free consultation.