What can I do about the doctor-patient priviledge and address an over prescribed medicine problem with mymother’s doctor?

My 70 year old, 90 lb mother has been prescribed vicodin for the last 10 years at 3 pills at 800 milligrams a day. She is running out of pills before the prescription is renewed, sometimes the pharmacy will fill it early. She is so addicted to these things she is now buying them from other people.

Asked on January 31, 2013 under Malpractice Law, Ohio


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

Speak with an attorney specializing in elder law: you may have to seek to have your mother declared incompetent (due to age and/or drug dependency) and have yourself appointed guardian in order to have legal rights to intervene.

Note that even without a legal right to interevene, you can contact her doctor and disclose the situation and your concerns: doctor-patient confidentiality means the doctor cannot disclose medical facts, etc. to you, but it does not mean that you cannot disclose concerns to the doctor who, if he/she is responsible, should take them into account in treatment (assuming he/she can verify them by examination, discussion with your mother, review of her pill usage, etc.).

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