Family Of Woman Sues Doctors, Rite Aid, Over Opioid Death
Opioid companies have already paid millions to state governments that footed the bill for recovery and addiction services after these companies flooded the market with dangerous and addictive drugs. However, many of the personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits that have been filed in these cases have been filed against individual doctors. In most cases, the pharmaceutical company lawsuits have been consolidated while individual lawsuits against pharmacies and doctors are pursued separately.
This lawsuit identifies a widower suing on behalf of his deceased wife who overdosed on opioids for which she had a prescription. When the woman died, an autopsy revealed several depressants in her system including benzodiazepines and opioids, a known lethal combination. Both drugs are respiratory depressants increasing the risk of overdose and respiratory arrest which occurs frequently just on opioids alone. The mixture of benzodiazepines plus opioids doubles the risk of respiratory arrest.
The complaint accuses the victim’s doctors of failing to perform risk assessments and blood tests to ensure that the drugs were being taken properly. The woman had been seeking relief of her pain, but the opioid regimen never gave her full flexibility or range of motion. Instead, it seemed to exacerbate her pain and doctors simply kept giving her more. Eventually, she died. Now, the family wants those responsible for her care to pay up.
Who is responsible?
In this case, it’s most likely that the doctor will take on the majority of the liability. It was his job to ensure that the patient’s medications did not interact improperly. As a second line of defense, the pharmacist should catch the error before the drugs get to the patient. In this case, none of that happened. The doctor prescribed a combination of drugs with a known danger and the patient died as a result. Since the doctor and pharmacy authorized the prescription, the bulk of the liability will fall on them.
In this case, the drug company may avoid liability since they can claim this was a prescribing error based on a known side effect of a common drug. The opioid companies are liable for falsely marketing their product as safe and other allegations, but they are not liable when a doctor prescribes a combination of drugs known to be lethal. So, the hammer will fall on the doctor primarily and the pharmacy as the last line of defense.
Several states have moved to hold doctors criminally liable for conduct that results in the death of patients. In one case, a New York doctor accused of writing opioid prescriptions from his vehicle has been charged with several counts of second-degree murder after he lost patients. Pain doctors are now under a microscope.
Talk to a Philadelphia Wrongful Death Lawyer Today
Green & Schafle represent the interests of those who have lost loved ones to acts of negligence and malice. Call our Philadelphia wrongful death lawyers today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help.