New Jersey Opioid Prescription Malpractice Attorneys
NJ Medical Malpractice Lawyers Help Clients Injured Due to Opioid Use in New Jersey
Opioid addiction refers to an obsessive desire to consume opioids, a deadly class of drugs that include codeine, fentanyl, morphine, oxycodone, and methadone. Opioid addiction has been rightly classified as an “epidemic” by media and public health observers in recent years. The president has called opioid addiction a national emergency. Opioid abuse has plagued the wives of presidents (Ford) and senators (McCain). It has contributed to the death of the common and the famous, including Heath Ledger, Prince, Anna Nicole Smith, and even Elvis Presley.
Just how bad of an epidemic is opioid addiction in our country? Consider this: in 2016 alone, more Americans died from opioid overdose than died during the entirety of the Vietnam War.
Ease of access has contributed significantly to the spread of the opioid epidemic. All it takes to have access to opioids is a prescription — signed by a physician or even just a pharmacist. In many cases, the healthcare professional knows (or reasonably should know) that they are enabling the patient to obtain opioids — or causing the patient to become addicted.
If your doctor has written opioid prescriptions for you that you did not need, and you’ve now developed a drug dependency, then he or she may have committed malpractice. To learn more about out how best to proceed with legal action under New Jersey law, contact an experienced NJ medical malpractice attorney today. Here at Blume Forte Fried Zerres & Molinari, our experienced attorneys have served the interests of injured plaintiffs — in personal injury and medical malpractice lawsuits — since 1929. We have handled thousands of cases on behalf of New Jersey injury victims, including opioid malpractice victims. Call Blume Forte Fried Zerres & Molinari now for a free consultation by dialing (973) 635-5400.
Patient Beware: Risks of Using Prescription Opioids
We live in a time when a variety of medications can provide significant pain relief without the need for injections or direct medical supervision. Unfortunately, this can lead to a situation where no one is properly regulating how much of a particular medication a patient takes. This can be exceedingly dangerous in the opioid treatment context.
If a physician prescribes any of the following medications to you, you may want to use them with extreme caution:
- codeine (only manufactured in generic form)
- fentanyl (Actiq, Duragesic, Fentora)
- hydrocodone (Hysingla ER, Zohydro ER)
- hydrocodone/acetaminophen (Lorcet, Lortab, Norco, Vicodin)
- hydromorphone (Dilaudid, Exalgo)
- meperidine (Demerol)
- methadone (Dolophine, Methadose)
- morphine (Astramorph, Avinza, Kadian, MS Contin, Ora-Morph SR)
- oxycodone (OxyContin, Oxecta, Roxicodone)
- oxycodone and acetaminophen (Percocet, Endocet, Roxicet)
- oxycodone and naloxone (Targiniq ER)
Both pharmacists and other healthcare providers — physicians at hospitals and clinics, for example — commonly overprescribe opioids when these painkillers are not necessary, given the level or degree of pain involved. In some cases, opioids are prescribed where an alternative, safer pain medication could have been used instead.
Prescription Malpractice Lawsuits in New Jersey
In New Jersey, as in other states, medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare provider acts negligently or departs from accepted standards of care, causing the patient to suffer injuries.
As with any other treatment, a doctor prescribes or administers (surgery, X-rays, chemotherapy, etc.), negligent prescribing or over prescribing a medication could make that doctor liable for any ill effects of using that medication.
Keep in mind that there are legitimate uses for opioid medications. In order to prove that a physician was negligent in prescribing opioids, your attorney will need to show that:
- The defendant physician owed you a duty of care – meaning you had a patient-healthcare provider relationship.
- The defendant physician breached that duty of care – meaning he prescribed to you a medication that a reasonable physician, under the same circumstance, would not have prescribed.
- The prescribed drug caused ill effects – meaning that use of the prescription opioid made you dependant on opioids, caused injury, or contributed to the patient’s death.
- Those ill effects caused you harm – meaning that the addiction made you lose your job, damaged your health, forced you to pay for expensive rehab, or caused personal loses to the family of a deceased patient.
There are many ways in which negligence might occur in the opioid prescription context. In general, the issue is one of the “standard of care.” Whether the healthcare provider breached the standard of care when prescribing opioids to you depends on the total circumstances. For example, if your pharmacist prescribed opioids without taking your medical history into account, that might constitute negligence and give rise to a medical malpractice claim. Similarly, if your physician wrongly prescribed you an opioid, or overprescribed by giving you a much higher dosage than necessary, then you could have a legitimate medical malpractice claim if the physician also caused you harm.
It’s worth noting that your healthcare provider must act accordingly if they notice that you are developing drug dependence. Similarly, if your doctor has knowledge from your medical records that you had a history of addiction, and your doctor knew that other treatment like physical therapy or ultrasound would be just as beneficial to you as medication, then it might be considered negligence if he/she still prescribed you opioid painkillers.
Contact an Experienced New Jersey Opioid Malpractice Lawyer Today
Medical malpractice claims can be difficult to prove. In addition, healthcare provider’s Insurers are often aggressive in defending their covered healthcare professionals, as they like to discourage the refiling of such lawsuits. To have a successful malpractice claim in New Jersey, you are going to need an experienced attorney on your side.
If you’ve suffered harm or lost a loved one due to opioid dependence, you should speak to the legal team at Blume Forte Fried Zerres & Molinari for a free case evaluation. Contact us today at (973) 635-5400.
- Women Warned About Risks of Birth Defects from Opioid Painkillers
- Opioid Abuse and Addiction – MedlinePlus
- Signs of Pain Medicine Abuse and Addiction – National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
- Understanding the Opioid Overdose Epidemic
- Naloxone – Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
- Opioid Overdose Reversal with Naloxone (Narcan, Evzio) – NIH
- America’s Addiction to Opioids: Heroin and Prescription Drug Abuse – NIH