Primary care physicians provide patients with generalized care for a variety of conditions, including chronic pain. While opioid painkillers can provide essential relief to many people with chronic pain, they must be administered with caution and patients taking opioids must be carefully monitored, to prevent abuse and diversion. If a physician negligently fails to use proper care when prescribing opioid painkillers, he or she may be held liable for any harm the patient suffers as a result, as demonstrated in a recent case ruled upon by the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York. If you or a loved one sustained damages due to pain medication that was inappropriately prescribed by your primary care physician, it is advisable to meet with a skillful Syracuse medical malpractice attorney to discuss your options for seeking recourse for your injuries.
Facts of the Case
It is alleged that the plaintiff’s decedent was involved in a car accident in 2007, in which she injured her left shoulder. She subsequently underwent surgery for her shoulder and was prescribed narcotic pain medication. She then began repeatedly requesting pain medication, but she was denied. The plaintiff’s decedent underwent additional surgery and was again prescribed pain medication by her orthopedic surgeon. She admitted that she was taking her medication in greater quantities and more frequently than prescribed. She requested additional medication, but her request was denied, and she was advised she would not receive any more medication.
It is reported that the plaintiff’s decedent then treated with another doctor, who noted that plaintiff’s decedent had track marks on her arm and diagnosed her with an opioid dependency, and a second doctor, who discharged her from his practice for using cocaine. The decedent then began treating with the defendant. She advised the defendant that she received pain medication from her orthopedic doctor, but she was looking for a local doctor. The defendant prescribed the decedent high-dose Oxycontin and Xanax. He never lowered her dosage or contacted the decedent’s orthopedic doctor. The decedent died of acute intoxication of fentanyl, heroin, Oxycontin, and Xanax.