Marlton, NJ (PRWEB) January 08, 2013
Overdoses from prescription painkillers kill an estimated 15,000 people each year in the United States, more than those caused by heroin and cocaine combined, according to a report published by TODAY. Many patients across the country aren’t taking these powerful medications to get high, the report stated. Instead, patients use the painkillers per their doctor’s orders, and develop addictions to them from regimented, extended use as an unexpected consequence. The alarming spike in overdose deaths has caught the attention of malpractice attorneys across the country. In Philadelphia, personal injury lawyer Richard P. Console Jr. believes the responsibility rests with doctors to explore all options when treating patient pain and not rely solely on painkillers.
“Many of these medications are in the opioid class, which is the same type of drug as heroin,” said Console. “Patients aren’t prepared for how addictive these narcotic painkillers can be and how they’re bodies might respond to them. Doctors prescribing them have a duty to monitor their patients closely for signs of addiction. Getting patients addicted to narcotic painkillers is a clear breach of the standard of care and may be a sign of negligence.”
The number of deaths reportedly caused by prescription painkillers has risen by more than 300 percent since 1999. Reported fatalities linked to these drugs also coincide with a 400 percent increase in the number of prescriptions written for them over the same time period. Doctors seeking to relieve pain for their patients quickly, rather than taking time to explore all treatment options may be widening the gaps for medical errors to sneak through and addictions to develop. Console, who’s been a malpractice lawyers in Philadelphia since 1994, agrees that patients are the ones who ultimately suffer because of that strategy.
“Dispensing powerful narcotics without regard for patient safety is dangerous and absolutely careless,” he said. “The sharp rise in the prescriptions written for these types of drugs is indicative of a move away from treating pain to simply masking it until the discomfort hopefully goes away. That’s not good enough, and as the numbers show, the strategy is killing people. Following a doctor’s orders is supposed to protect patients from harm, not put them at risk for a deadly addiction. Fault there does not rest with the patients.”
Console also suggested patients who become addicted to prescription painkillers from following their doctor’s orders may be able to pursue claims against them for damages incurred as a result of their addictions. The firm’s attorneys, including Console, have seen the tragic outcome of painkiller addiction firsthand. A wrongful death claim (Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas #090201165) they pursued in 2009 stemmed from a client receiving lethal doses of prescription painkillers from his doctors. Prolonged use of the medication, per his doctors’ orders, directly led to his untimely death, according to court documents. The case settled in 2011 for $1,650,000, just before the jury returned its own verdict of more than $4,000,000, stated court records.
Richard P. Console Jr. is the managing partner of Console & Hollawell P.C., a personal injury law firm helping accident victims, including those injured by medical malpractice, across Pennsylvania. The firm’s award-winning attorneys have advocated for more than 5,000 clients obtaining the maximum compensation possible.