Opioid Epidemic & the Role of Doctors
We trust our physicians to treat us and alleviate our pain. Unfortunately, many healthcare providers commonly prescribe opioids to reduce or eliminate a patient’s pain without ever considering the alternatives to these dangerously addictive prescriptions. According to some studies, at least 75% of those who abuse heroin say they first started down their path toward addiction when they began abusing prescription drugs, which they either received from a doctor or took from a relative or friend. In 2015 alone, it is estimated that opioid overdoses accounted for over 42,000 deaths in the United States – a 500% increase from the number of opioid-related deaths that occurred in 1999. Clearly, overprescribed opioids are a rapidly growing problem.
What Should Be Done?
While opioids certainly have a justifiable place in healthcare, they should not be the status quo when treating a patient’s pain. Other, more responsible alternatives a prudent doctor should consider include:
- Using lower dosages when possible, which can decrease the risk of addiction to pain medications. This could also lower the severity of any side effects that are commonly associated with certain opioids.
- Reduce the amount of medication prescribed. Patients are often prescribed more than what is necessary for appropriate care, which means they might continue to take them and develop an addiction, or the excess pills could fall into the wrong hands.
- If a weaker medication can alleviate a patient’s pain and is not an opioid, this alternative should be considered first. For example, if Tylenol 3 will sufficiently address a patient’s pain, addictive drugs like morphine or hydrocodone should be avoided.
Why Are Opioids Being Overprescribed?
According to a report by CNN, doctors whose opioid prescription volume ranked among the top 5% nationally made twice as much money from the manufacturers of those drugs compared to doctors whose prescription volume was in the median range. Essentially, the more opioids a doctor prescribed, the more money he or she was able to make.
A study performed by researchers at the University of North Carolina examined two government databases and found a similar correlation. Doctors were more likely to prescribe opioids when they received payments from manufacturers, which further supports the suggestion that there could be a conflict of interest when it comes to the pharmaceutical industry and doctors, potentially playing a rather large role in fueling the current opioid epidemic in our country.
Protect Your Rights and Call Richard Schwartz & Associates, P.A.
If you believe a physician was negligent in overprescribing opioid drugs, resulting in addiction, you need a medical malpractice attorney on your side to secure the compensation you deserve. At Richard Schwartz & Associates, P.A. in Mississippi, our attorneys will stand by your side and guide you through the process of filing your claim, from start to finish.
Get started on your case today and call our office at (601) 869-0696 to discuss your medical malpractice case.