Prescription Malpractice

The incidence of patient deaths has become so common that the FDA has sent warning letters out to prescribers to warn that death may occur if the narcotic pain medications of Fentanyl and methadone are not prescribed and used exactly in accordance with the FDA approved package insert.

Fentanyl and Methadone Prescription Overdose Leading to Death or Brain Injury

West Virginia has the highest drug overdose mortality rate in the United States.  The incidence of patient deaths has become so common that the FDA has sent numerous warning letters out to prescribers to warn that death or brain injury may occur if the narcotic pain medications of Fentanyl and methadone are not prescribed and used exactly in accordance with the FDA approved package insert.

An increasing number of families have filed complaints against a major drug manufacturer after residents of WV claim their relatives died following exposure to lethal amounts of fentanyl through prescribed pain patches.

In West Virginia many patients have "comorbid" conditions that require a cocktail of drugs to treat, says Peggy King, pharmacy director for West Virginia's Bureau for Medical Services.  In the WV adult population, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, poor mental health, obesity, smoking, arthritis, and other disabilities are above other states in nearly every category.  A chronic disease state needs medication, and prescribers need to make sure their patients are properly treated with the correct medications for their conditions.

Prescription drugs can be a miracle for many, but misuse can have dire consequences including brain injury and death. Fentanyl is an opioid drug that can be administered through a patch applied to the skin, through injection, or lozenge.  It treats chronic pain by acting on the central nervous system.  Fentanyl can be an efficient and effective pain blocker but must be used correctly and must also be free of any manufacturing defects.  In a fatal dose, the heart and lungs may suddenly stop working.

In prescribing and using drugs such as fentanyl which is administered through a transdermal patch, errors in dosage can occur from manufacturing defects which allow too much skin to contact the patch causing overdose, or too little of the skin touching which results in withdrawal symptoms. In fact, around a thousand people a year die as a result of fentanyl use.  This is why the FDA and drug prescribing error attorneys are watching this so closely.  If damage or death has been the result of fentanyl use by someone you love, you need to contact an attorney who is knowledgeable about wrongful death cases.

Common Mistakes in Prescribing Fentanyl:

  • Prescribing the wrong dose or increasing the dose too quickly
  • Combining fentanyl or methadone with other drugs that suppress the central nervous system
  • Prescribing fentanyl to a patient who has obesity, sleep apnea, asthma, COPD, a history of smoking, or is oxygen dependent
  • Prescribing fentanyl (a long acting drug) for a short term pain like surgery or injury
  • Prescribing fentanyl or methadone to someone who has not taken opioids in the past

Do you have a case?  Some criteria for a Fentanyl Lawsuit:

  • The patient was prescribed fentanyl or methadone by a medical professional
  • The patient died or sustained a catastrophic brain injury
  • The cause of death was fentanyl, methadone, or a mixed drug overdose
  • The patient was using all medicines as prescribed
  • The patient was not using illegal drugs, or legal drugs in an illegal manner
  • The prescribing doctor, nurse, or physician's assistant made a prescribing error

If you believe you qualify for representation, or if you want to discuss issues related to a drug defect or prescription error lawsuit, you need to contact an experienced personal injury attorney today.  Under West Virginia law, you have a limited amount of time to file a claim, so it is important to not delay.

Sources:

WV Record, "More fentanyl cases filed in federal court" Kelly Holleran, November 1, 2010.

Saludify, "Man smokes a pain-relief skin patch" Hope Gillette, February 20, 2013.

 

Keywords: wrongful death, death from fentanyl, death from methadone, prescription errors, medical malpractice