We all need to trust that our physicians are capable of correctly diagnosing our symptoms and prescribing the right medications. This is especially true if the medications in question have potentially dangerous side effects. And among all the various types of prescription medications available, opioids, a form of painkiller, may present the greatest risks to patients.
Given that these drugs produce such strong reactions and have such a high potential for addiction, one would think that doctors would be very careful regarding the duration of time a patient should use them. But according to the National Safety Council, this is far from the case.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that patients not use opioids for more than three days at a time. But the NSC recently reported that 99 percent of doctors surveyed prescribe opioids for periods exceeding the three-day duration. Moreover, 23 percent of the surveyed doctors stated that they have prescribed opioids for stretches of a month or longer. This, in spite of there being evidence that brain changes can occur after 30 days of use.
While many doctors may believe prescribing opioids is the most effective way to help patients manage their pain, this belief is challenged by research showing that ibuprofen and other over-the-counter drugs do a better job.
And while there has been an increase in the prescribing of opioids, so too has there been an increase in the number of overdoses. Frighteningly, prescription opioids now contribute to a higher number of deaths than cocaine and heroin combined.
If you believe prescription opioids contributed to the death of a member of your family, you may wish to have a medical malpractice attorney investigate the matter. Depending on the circumstances, the doctor who prescribed the medication may be held liable. If you should decide to file a wrongful death lawsuit, you may be able to receive appropriate compensation for your loss.
Source: National Safety Council, "NSC Poll: 99% of Doctors Prescribe Highly-addictive Opioids Longer than CDC Recommends," Mar. 24, 2016