Medical errors, including errors in judgment or incorrect diagnoses, could lead to the over-prescription of opioid medications. Unfortunately, these addictive drugs could go on to cause serious complications or overdoses in patients who take them.
Overprescribing pain medications is dangerous. Prescription opioids, in particular, are highly addictive and can lead to fatal overdoses when taken incorrectly. As of 2021, the number of opioids being prescribed is around three times higher than it was in 1999. This is in spite of how between the years 2006 and 2017, the rate of prescribing these drugs dropped by around 19%.
In 2017, there were around 58 prescriptions written out for opioids per 100 Americans. In some cases, those drugs are not needed or are ill-advised for particular patients.
How can overprescribing be a medical error?
There are a few ways that this can be a medical mistake that a provider could be held liable for. The first is that overprescribing any kind of medication that may be used in illicit manners has to be controlled. A medical provider who gives opioids to those who don’t need them or who may already have a prescription is making a mistake. Similarly, receiving kickbacks from patients or those who distribute drugs for prescribing them is also against the law.
If a medical provider prescribes opioids to someone who has a history of opioid addiction and that person overdoses, there may also be a question of whether that medical provider did their due diligence before prescribing the medications.
Some people do need opioid medications, so not every prescription is one to question. However, if a provider is writing out an abundance of opioid drug prescriptions or writing prescriptions for patients more often than is normal in the medical community, then there should be questions about that provider’s actions.
If a patient overdoses on opioids, whether they survive or pass away, the medical provider who prescribed the drugs should be questioned. If they didn’t follow up regularly, failed to follow standard prescribing protocols or made an error in prescribing the drugs, then they could be held accountable for making those mistakes.