Opioid medications are very potent and useful drugs. These relatively new synthetic medications have largely replaced traditional opioid medications. They help people manage pain and can even promote rest when someone’s discomfort might otherwise affect their ability to sleep and relax. Pain management medications like opioids are crucial to people’s quality of life and ability to recover from an injury or illness.
Unfortunately, opioid drugs are also very dangerous. It is quite common for people to become chemically dependent on opioids after taking them for more than a few doses. Some people also overdose by taking more than they should in a short amount of time. Medical doctors must therefore be cautious about how they handle prescribing opioids to their patients.
Despite oversight provided by both state and federal authorities, mistakes with opioid medications are still somewhat common. The three mistakes below are some of the most common errors during opioid administration that can have significant health consequences for a patient.
The most straightforward way that a physician fails to protect their patient from the risks of opioid medication is by giving a patient too much. A doctor might write a prescription for too many days’ worth of medication or too high of a dose. Overprescribing increases the risk of both chemical dependency and abuse if there are leftover medications after someone’s condition improves.
Physicians generally need to validate the patient’s need for dangerous drugs like opioids. That process might include verifying what other medical treatment someone has undergone and any alternative pain management options that they have attempted. Without a careful check before writing a prescription, doctors could end up prescribing medication to someone who has gone physician shopping. That is the practice of seeing multiple different professionals to obtain multiple different prescriptions.
Failing to monitor properly
The last mistake relates to overseeing a patient’s use of opioids, especially toward the end of the regimen. Physicians need to make sure that people do not misuse opioid medication and that they taper off of the drug appropriately. Doctors generally need to oversee both the active treatment phase and the transition away from chemical pain control. The failure to do so might lead to someone still feeling a sense of chemical dependence at the end of their prescription and falling into addiction.
Connecting someone’s addiction or overdose to medication errors could help people pursue a medical malpractice claim that can cover the expenses and related losses caused by the issue.