When thinking about the pharmaceutical industry, high prices often come to mind. However, according to news reports, more and more Americans are being overprescribed medication, contributing to the high cost of medication and harming millions of Americans each year.

Doctors Reviewing Xray

Over the past two decades, the number of Americans taking multiple medications has grown significantly. Between 2000 and 2012, adults in the United States taking five or more medications rose from 8.2 percent to 15 percent.

Overprescribing medication can lead to serious harm and adverse side effects and is expected to cause 4.6 million hospitalizations over the next decade, as well as about 150,000 premature deaths. So, can patients pursue a claim against a doctor for overprescribing medication, and is overprescription against medical malpractice law?

How common is painkiller addiction?

Many pain medications consist of opium, the same natural ingredient that’s in heroin, which is extremely addictive. The most common narcotic pain medications include morphine and codeine, while common synthetic opioids include Dilaudid, Percocet, Vicodin, and Oxycontin.

According to WebMD, 99 percent of American doctors overprescribe narcotic painkillers. While the federally recommended dosage limit is three days, nearly a quarter of doctors prescribe painkillers for a month. Although 85 percent of doctors screen for signs of prior addiction, only one-third ask about family history of addiction.

This fear of addiction is what’s driving so many people to try CBD for pain relief. If you want to try this route, do your research first. Read CBD oil reviews and speak to your doctor.

When patients become addicted to painkillers, they are unable to stop taking the medication without experiencing withdrawal. To determine who can be held at fault for addiction to pain medication, it’s important to understand what medical malpractice is.

What is medical malpractice?

Although a wide range of actions by a health care provider can be considered medical malpractice, the main cause of medical malpractice is negligence. In court, medical negligence is defined as a “health care provider’s failure to exercise the degree of care and skill of the average health care provider who practices the provider’s specialty, taking into account the advances in the profession and resources available to the provider.”

Therefore, to pursue a successful medical malpractice claim, a patient will need to prove that the health care provider acted negligently.

Proving negligence in a malpractice case

A medical malpractice attorney can help you determine whether your health care provider acted negligently in overprescribing medication. When meeting with your attorney, you’ll need to bring all of your medical records related to the treatment.

In addition, you’ll need to hire a medical expert witness to review medical records and provide an expert opinion on the health care provider’s negligence. The medical expert will analyze whether the health care provider acted according to the legal duty to assess the medication’s benefit, known side effects, and the relationship between the prescription and other medications taken by the patient.

Medical experts are required to prove negligence in medical malpractice cases and will also take your medical history, diagnosis, and treatment into account. If you elect not to hire a medical expert, it’s highly unlikely that you will win or even make it to trial.

Prevailing in a medical malpractice case

After establishing a basis for negligence, you’ll need to prove other elements to prevail in a medical malpractice case. First, you’ll need to prove that you took the medication according to the instructions provided to you by your doctor. In addition, you may need to show that your doctor failed to warn you of adverse side effects or complications that you experienced as a result of the medication.

You will also need expert medical testimony to establish a causal link between overprescription and your resulting harm. Finally, you’ll need to prove that you suffered damages that can be compensated under the medical malpractice law.

Although overprescription of medication has caused numerous hospitalizations and premature deaths because of adverse side effects, it remains a common issue, especially among painkiller prescriptions. If you believe you’ve been involved in a medical malpractice case, contact an attorney in your area to discuss your options.