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What happens when doctors overprescribe medication?

Doctors are the gatekeepers for multiple kinds of medical care. Their recommendation is necessary for someone to obtain an appointment with a specialist. A doctor also needs to prescribe a medication and oversee someone’s treatment with a drug.

Prescribed medications are controlled substances in part because they pose a degree of risk for people.  Many medications can lead to people developing substance abuse disorders. A prescribed drug can also be dangerous because people can overdose or because the medication could interact with other substances in unexpected ways.

Doctors prescribing medications typically have to verify that someone has a condition that warrants a prescription. They also need to monitor how a patient responds to a medication to ensure that the treatment goes well for them. Some doctors engage in overprescribing, which can potentially endanger their patients.

What constitutes overprescribing?

Overprescribing involves recommending more medication than a patient needs or recommending medication unnecessarily. A doctor who hands out opioids for sprained ankles might face accusations of overprescribing. Opioids are among the most commonly overprescribed medications. People could also raise claims of overprescribing in cases where a physician gives someone too many refills, too many pills at once or too high of a dose based on their overall health. Overprescribing can cause several serious medical complications for the patient involved.

How does overprescribing endanger patients?

There are several ways in which overprescribing practices can endanger patients. The first is the possibility of them overdosing. If a doctor recommends too much medication given someone’s weight or other characteristics, simply following medical instructions might lead to adverse consequences.

The second concern about overprescribing is the risk of a patient becoming dependent. The longer someone takes a medication that might trigger addiction, the greater the risk of developing a dangerous habit. Overprescribing can also endanger patients because they may hold on to their leftover medication. They may then use the remainder of their prescription for other medical challenges in the future without proper physician oversight.

Families dealing with the aftermath of an overdose, or a similar issue related to overprescribing, may hope to hold the doctor involved accountable. A failure to prescribe an appropriate amount of medication and follow up with a patient could potentially constitute medical malpractice. Taking legal action against a doctor who commits medical malpractice might lead to financial compensation for the people harmed by a physician’s medication errors.