Infants and young children may be at risk of a potentially fatal overdose caused by exposure to opioid painkiller drugs. These overdoses can occur when children are prescribed painkillers to treat serious chronic conditions or when they are accidently exposed to opioid medications that have been prescribed to an adult.
Opioid painkillers—which include drugs such as fentanyl, morphine, hydrocodone, oxycodone, and methadone—are among the most commonly prescribed drugs in the U.S. The use of these prescription painkillers has risen significantly in recent years. Between 2006 and 2010, prescriptions for oxycodone or Vicodin rose by 50%, while prescriptions for fentanyl and methadone rose by 70% and 75% respectively.
The rate of opioid prescriptions for children has also increased in recent years. Because children require only small amounts of these drugs, even a minor dosing error can lead to a serious overdose or death. Researchers have found that drugs such as hydrocodone, morphine, fentanyl, methadone, and codeine can be fatal for children with only a single dose.
Cases of overdose or death among infants and young children can also occur when they are accidentally exposed to opioids that are prescribed to their parents or other adults. Studies have found that prescription painkillers are often the culprit in poisoning deaths among children. These overdose deaths can occur when children accidentally ingest opioid pills or liquid containers of painkiller solutions. Fentanyl patches are of particular concern, as many deaths have occurred from children coming in contact with fentanyl patches that have been discarded by adults or which have fallen off adults. Because opioids can be transmitted through the placenta or breastmilk, accidental painkiller overdoses can also occur during pregnancy or from breastfeeding.
Parents whose children suffered an overdose as a result of accidental exposure to opioids or from drugs that were improperly administered by a hospital or physician may be eligible to file a lawsuit. For a free legal consultation about your case, contact the lawyers at the law firm of Heygood, Orr & Pearson by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001, or by completing the free case evaluation form located on this page.