It all begins with a phone call. You are in shock, confused. What is methadone? What is OxyContin? What is fentanyl? How did he die of an overdose when the drug was prescribed by a physician? Like others, you start to google, and you have found yourself here. Welcome to Overdoselaw.com.
Death Rate from Prescription Drug Overdoses Rising
Unfortunately, the rate of death from drug overdoses is rising in the U.S., and the death rate from prescribed drugs is rising too.
From 1999-2004, unintentional fatal drug overdoses nearly doubled and were the second leading cause of accidental death in the United States in 2004, behind only automobile crashes, according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Deaths from accidental overdoses increased to 19,838 in 2004, from 11,155 in 1999, according to the CDC report, which was based on death certificate information (which does not detail which drugs were used). However, researchers believe the increasing misuse of prescription drugs by those ages 15 to 24 accounts for the majority of the statistic.
The CDC attributes the 62.5 percent rise in drug overdose deaths between 1999 and 2004 to a higher use of prescription painkillers and increasing numbers of overdoses of cocaine and prescription sedatives. The increase cannot be attributed to heroin, methamphetamines or other illegal drugs, the report said.
What Can I Do?
If you believe that a pharmacy error resulted in an overdose for you or a family member, you should contact the Board of Pharmacy in your state and make a complaint. Boards of Pharmacy regulate pharmacists and will investigate complaints by consumers. If the pharmacist made a mistake such as putting the wrong medication in the bottle, putting too much of the medication in the bottle, putting the wrong instructions on the bottle, or failing to check for or warn about dangerous drug interactions, the Pharmacy Board wants to know so that they can take action to prevent future mistakes.
Physician and Doctor Errors
If you believe that a doctor’s mistake caused an overdose for you or a family member, you should contact the Board of Medicine in your state and make a complaint. Boards of Medicine regulate physicians and investigate complaints by consumers. If the doctor made a mistake such as giving the wrong medication, giving too much of the medication, giving the wrong instructions for taking the drug or failing to check for or warn about dangerous drug interactions, the Medical Board in your state wants to know so that they can take action to prevent future mistakes.
Why Did They Die?
Medications work in the body in different ways. Some drugs are cardiotoxic or poisons to the heart, and some drugs affect the central nervous system and decrease respiratory drive, or the brain’s signals to the lungs to breathe. When a person has a cardiac or heart-related death from a drug overdose, it offen happens suddenly. Cardiac arrhythmias can sometimes cause the heart to stop as a result of drug overdose. When a person dies of respiratory depression, family members may see a pattern of drowsiness, lethargy, snoring, slowed heart rate and slowed breathing. People who die of respiratory depression have been reported to have been breathing slowly, or snoring loudly in the hours before they were found dead.
If the person died of a drug overdose from a drug prescribed by a doctor, the person may have died because the doctor did something wrong. Doctors have a responsibility to take a complete history of the patient, learn what medications the person has used in the past, and what current medications the patient is taking. Doctors have a responsibility to prescribe the right medication for the patient’s condition. Doctors also have a responsibility to prescribe the right dose for the patient and to monitor the patient to make sure the patient does not get too much medication. Failure to do these things may result in a patient’s death.
Doctors Who Run “Pill Mills”
If you believe the physician prescribing the drug was unreasonable to prescribe the quantity of drugs, or prescribed too many dangerous drugs, call the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and report the physician. The U.S. DEA wants to know who these doctors are so they can protect the public. To find the DEA office nearest you, click on http://www.justice.gov/dea/contactinfo.htm. You can also find the local or regional office of the DEA by looking in the blue pages of your phone book under “United States Government.”
Contact a lawyer
If you have questions about why your family member died from a drug overdose, and would like a free legal consultation, please contact us. We are drug overdose lawyers. In many cases, we can review the relevant records, and help you understand why your family member died. We may even discuss a drug overdose lawsuit. It all begins with a phone call.