In an effort to curb the epidemic of opioid painkiller abuse, many doctors and health providers are turning to alternative treatments in an effort to avoid exposing patients to the risk of dependence, addiction, and overdose caused by these drugs. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, overdoses caused by opioid painkillers killed more than 28,000 Americans in 2014, with thousands addicted to these drugs.
Many dentists have begun to reduce the frequency with which they prescribe opioids such as Vicodin to patients who have undergone a root canal or other dental procedures. Recent studies have shown that a combination of over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medications is more effective at managing dental pain than prescription painkillers.
However, these changes in prescribing practices are running up against decades of entrenched prescribing practices for dentists who have used prescription medications as the go-to drug to treat patients. An article entitled “Why Do We Prescribe Vicodin?” published in The Journal of the American Dental Association explored how dentists have been prescribing opioids to treat dental pain since the 1970s, making it hard to change the way dentists manage patient pain through medications.
Other medical practitioners are finding more success in transitioning away from opioid medications as their preferred pain management drug. Recent studies have shown that intervention programs, educational initiatives, and new state and federal medical guidelines have increased the frequency with which doctors prescribe nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or anticonvulsants as an alternative to opioid painkillers.
According to a recent study conducted by Coventry Workers’ Comp Services, opioid prescriptions fell 3.2% between 2014 and 2015, with a 3.9% drop in high dose opioid prescriptions. During this same period, the use of anticonvulsant medications in patients who were not taking opioids rose by 4.4%, while the use of NSAIDs rose by 12.9%.
After years of aggressive promotion by the pharmaceutical industry in which the use of opioids became widespread in the U.S., health experts are beginning to realize that more must be done to curb the epidemic of opioid overprescription. Former FDA chief Dr. David Kessler stated earlier this year that the widespread use of opioid painkillers in the U.S. was “one of the great mistakes of modern medicine.” In April 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidelines for doctors regarding prescription painkillers intended to reduce the frequency with which these medications are prescribed in the U.S.
When a loved one has been the victim of overdose caused by opioid painkillers, the doctor or hospital who prescribed them may be to blame. Sometimes doctors prescribe too many of these powerful painkillers, sometimes doctors prescribe these potent drugs in dosages that are too high, and sometimes doctors prescribe them with other drugs that can cause dangerous and even fatal drug interactions. The aggressive marketing of prescription painkillers by the pharmaceutical industry has also played a key role in the rise of opioid overdoses in the U.S.
If you or a loved one has been the victim of an overdose or other serious complications caused by opioid overprescription, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit against the doctor or hospital that was responsible for your injuries. The first step in taking legal action is to talk with a law firm with the experience and knowledge to successfully handle your case from start to finish.
The lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson have represented numerous individuals who have been the victim of complications caused by opioid painkiller prescriptions. Our law firm has handled more cases involving the fentanyl pain patch—a powerful opioid painkiller that is about 80-100 times more powerful than morphine—than all other law firms in the country combined. If you or a loved one has been hurt by side effects from opioid painkiller medications, the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson are ready to help.
For more information about filing a lawsuit and to learn if you may be eligible to file a case, contact our law firm by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001, or by following the link to our free case evaluation form located at the top of this page and answering a few simple questions to get started.