Can Opioid Deaths Lead to Medical Malpractice Lawsuits?

Published on January 16th, 2019

opioid overdose preventable death medical malpractice thurswell lawThe odds of dying from an accidental opioid overdose are greater than the chances of dying in a car accident, according to statistics reported by the National Safety Council (NSC). This begs the question: Could doctors be sued for medical malpractice if a patient who was given an opioid prescription overdoses?

Lifetime Risk of an Opioid Overdose

The NSC analyzed preventable injury and fatality statistics from 2017 to reach their conclusions about opioid deaths vs. car accident fatalities. They also determined that the lifetime odds of death by overdose exceeded the risk of dying in a fall, pedestrian accident, drowning, or fire.

Here are some of the accidental opioid overdose stats:

  • Lifetime odds of dying from accidental opioid overdose are 1 in 96.
  • Lifetime odds of a fatality caused by a car accident are 1 in 103.
  • Lifetime odds of dying in a fall is 1 in 114.
  • Greater than all of these stats was the lifetime odds of suicide: 1 in 88.

Many people assume that because they are prescribed an opioid that they are safe from any harm. If their doctor gave them a prescription for the drug it must be because they believe the medication to be more beneficial than harmful, right?

The Stats About Preventable Deaths

Preventable deaths are at an all-time high, according to the NSC, increasing 5.3% from 2016 to 2017 and increasing 96% from the 1992 figures to the 2017 figures. They’re not “accidents” or unavoidable, unstoppable acts of God. Preventable deaths occur at the hands of human beings, whether a reckless driver or a negligent doctor.

Every person is responsible for taking precautions to protect themselves from harm, and that includes considering what they ingest, including prescription medications. Driving a vehicle is a risk to our safety – but people take this risk every day. Opioids are a risk to our safety too, prescription or not – but people continue to take these meds every day, with or without doctor approval.

In 2018, unintentional injury was the leading cause of death in the United States, with nearly twice as many people dying from preventable deaths – the majority of which included motor vehicle accidents and unintentional poisonings (overdoses) – than cancer and heart disease combined.

Suing for Negligence and Medical Malpractice in Opioid Deaths

Life expectancy has declined in the United States because of more drug overdoses and suicides, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). A growing number of children, adolescents, and women are dying from opioid poisonings.

It’s not just negligence on the part of the doctors who prescribe opioids who could be held responsible for an opioid overdose. A case was recently brought by Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey against Purdue Pharma, its executives, and members of the family that owns the pharmaceutical company for deceiving both patients and doctors about the risks of opioids, specifically their moneymaker, OxyContin.

Have you lost a loved one to a preventable opioid overdose? Schedule a consultation with the Michigan medical malpractice lawyers at Thurswell Law to discuss your situation and find out if you have a case. Get compensation for your family’s loss, pain, and suffering. We do not charge any fees unless you collect. Call (248) 354-2222 today.

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