If my pain medication caused an addiction, do I have a case?

About 8 years ago my husband was in a car accident and went to doctor for back pain. He was give no xray or MRI but was writen a prescription for 120 oxycodone 30 mg. He became dependant on this medication. The doctor office gave him follow up appointments every month for the last 8 years. At every appointment he was given this same script of 120 30 mg oxycodone. After 8 years the doctor sent him to finally have an MRI. Last month he was given a phone call by doctor office that told him he would no longer receive this

medication because the doctor will no longer be writing perscriptions. He has become physically and mentally dependant on this medication. It has caused him to turn to other drugs. This has put a toll on our family and has financially. Can I sue for malpractice?

Asked on March 24, 2017 under Malpractice Law, Pennsylvania


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

You may have a case, since bad or negligent management of medication can be malpractice. But first, you need to have some basis to think that the doctor was wrong--it's not enough that your husband became dependent, since he could have become dependent even if the doctor did everything right and followed accepted guidelines for pain management and prescribing. You need other doctors to indicate that either or both of the following occured: that the doctor should not have written this prescription in the first place; or that the length of time your husband was kept on it was inappropriate and against good medical practice. Essentially, you need medical evidence or a medical reason to believe the doctor did something wrong, and not merely that your husband, unfortunately, happened to have developed a dependency on pain medication being prescribed properly. If you have some medical reason (e.g. from other doctors you have spoken to) to think that this doctor was negligent in his practice, then it is likely worthwhile to consult wth a medical malpractice attorney to explore the potential case in more depth; but if there is no reason to think the doctor was negligent or careless, then you likely do not have a viable case.

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