Can a Doctor be Held Liable for an Opioid Overdose?

After major surgery, patients are often prescribed opioid medications. These opioids have given rise to an epidemic of massive proportions. Opioid overdose deaths are on the rise.

John Risvold
May 18, 2018


After major surgery, patients are often prescribed opioid medications. These opioids have given rise to an epidemic of massive proportions.  Opioid overdose deaths are on the rise. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports half of all fatal opioid overdoses involve a prescription. For every opioid overdose death, experts estimate nearly 130 people abuse or have a dependency on these drugs.

In Illinois, opioid use is rampant. According to Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) data from 2016, there were 1,826 opioid-related deaths in the state. This represents an over 70 percent increase in the number of opioid-related deaths that were reported in 2013 and a 32.1 percent increase over the 1,382 opioid-related overdose that was reported by IDPH for 2015.

Many people become hooked on these highly addictive drugs. Often it is the result of patients obtaining prescriptions from “pill mills” where doctors perfunctorily write opioid prescriptions without first examining the patient.

Doctors can be responsible for opioid addiction and overdose death if they fail to responsibly dispense medication, fail to administer proper care and treatment or fail to monitor a patient to ensure they are receiving a proper dose of medication and not becoming addicted to these dangerous drugs. These steps are critical in determining whether a patient is on the right medication, at the right dosage, and for the right amount of time.



Researchers point to patient mismanagement as a possible cause of such medical malpractice actions, while noting that doctors sometimes renew a patient’s prescription without reevaluating their current health status. Another cause of medical malpractice is physicians failing to properly advise patients of other treatment options.

No doctor should be prescribing opioid medication to patients without first examining them, and to do so would be an obvious deviation from the acceptable standard of care.

Doctors must obtain a full medical history (including any history of addiction) before they administer these addictive pain medications. If pain medication is going to be used longer than the short-term, seek a referral to a pain management doctor or a specialist.

If you or a loved one are suffering from opioid addiction, or have lost a loved one to this epidemic, it may be because of malpractice. A lawyer can help fight for your rights and get justice for you. Contact The Collins Law Firm today to speak with a lawyer who can help you in your time of need.

About The Author

John, a personal injury trial lawyer at The Collins Law Firm P.C., has dedicated his career to fighting those responsible for injuring his clients. He focuses his practice on medical negligence, nursing home neglect, and catastrophic personal injury. He spends the majority of his practice helping ...

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