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Potential Malpractice Liability for Overprescription of Opioids?

Posted in: Blog // Written on behalf of Cuming & Gillespie
September 8, 2015

A recent editorial in the Calgary Herald cited Dr. Douglas Grant, the CEO and registrar of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia, holding certain physicians at least partially responsible for the increased abuse of opioid drugs throughout Canada.

In a speech to the Canadian Medical Association’s annual general council meeting at the end of August, Dr. Grant said that “weak” physicians who had “lost control of the patient-doctor relationship” were over-prescribing opioid drugs due to lack of information and/or weak will in the face of repeated patient requests.

Opioids are commonly prescribed as painkillers, but are frequently abused due to their psychoactive effects. Drug dependencies on opioids have been an increasing problem in Calgary and throughout Canada in recent years, and opioid abuse is believed to be responsible for an increasing number of fatalities.

Doctors can already be held liable for serious prescription errors that result in injury or wrongful death. The more clearly the medical community defines over-prescription of opioids as a serious problem, the more open to risk physicians are when it comes to malpractice charges for overdoses and wrongful deaths that result from opioid abuse.

Increased media attention could help spur doctors into developing clear-cut guidelines for prescription rates, and this would establish more clear-cut guidelines for malpractice cases, too.

If you or a family member has been injured by a serious prescription error and you would like to explore your rights and options under the law, please contact Cuming & Gillespie today.

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