For many years it has been known that medical malpractice is the 3rd leading cause of death in this country. In fact, medical malpractice accounts for over 400,000 deaths per year. A new form of malpractice is leading to an additional 100,000 deaths per year: Dangerous prescriptions of drugs. According to data published by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 100,000 people died of drug overdoses in the US from April 2020 to April 2021. Opioids, primarily Fentanyl, caused approximately 64% of those deaths. The question is why does this keep happening?
Doctors have many choices when prescribing pain medications. They can choose what type of pain medication to use (opioid or non-opioid). They can choose how many pills to prescribe for the pain. They can choose whether or not to give refills. In some situations, giving an opioid may be necessary. For example, if a patient is on a blood thinner (coumadin, for example), it is dangerous to give certain pain medications, like Meloxicam and Celebrex. In that situation, it may be in the patient’s best interest to prescribe an opioid, as it is safer than Meloxicam and Celebrex for blood thinner patients. All the doctor has to do is limit the number of pills in the prescription and not give any refills. If the patient is still in pain after the small number of pills has been taken, he or she must return to the doctor for more. This simple approach limits the number of pills being dispensed, which in turn limits the chances of an overdose. Unfortunately, many doctors refuse to take the time to really consider their patient’s needs.
There is no question that drug manufacturers have done their best to get patients addicted to pain pills. There is also no question that doctors have failed to do their part to curb the epidemic.