Synthetic opioid medications have revolutionized pain management. It has never been easier to access pain medication or more affordable for people to control severe and chronic pain. Unfortunately, as opioids are both cheaper and more potent than traditional opiate pain relief medication, they also create a major risk of abuse and addiction.
Doctors who prescribe pain medication need to balance a patient’s current pain level with the possible risk that comes with prescription pain relief. If they don’t properly manage a patient’s case after they recommend opioid drugs, their negligent conduct could have a serious adverse impact on the patient involved.
What are two of the ways that doctors fail to meet best practices when recommending opioid drugs?
Obviously, a doctor concerned about how pain affects someone’s daily life does not want to leave that patient without access to medication over a weekend. However, prescribing an entire month’s worth of opioids at once, especially if a doctor recommends the maximum amount of medication for someone’s age, sex and weight, can be quite dangerous.
The patient may take more than they should at once, and a vial full of opioids also makes them a potential target for criminals. If they have leftover medication, they may not recognize the harm in handing it off to friends or neighbors. Doctors contribute to the flood of opioid medications available on the unregulated market by prescribing too much to individual patients.
They don’t taper their patients at the end of the regimen
Opioid drugs are habit-forming and can cause physical dependence. People may experience excruciating withdrawal symptoms when they suddenly stop using opioid pain relief.
Doctors typically need to help their patients get off of these medications, especially if they have taken the drugs for more than a few days. Medication tapering involves a doctor carefully overseeing a patient and slowly reducing how much of a medication they take. When doctors abruptly end a prescription, their patients may seek medication from others or even turn to prohibited substances like heroin to avoid withdrawal.
Recognizing that poor prescribing habits can be a dangerous form of medical malpractice can help you hold a doctor accountable for their failures when treating you or a family member.