Can you Sue your Doctor for Opiate Addiction?

Opiates are a class of medications used to treat pain. Long term use of opioids is habit forming and leads to an addiction. So, if a doctor prescribes opiates and you end up developing an addiction, can you sue him or her? The law provides that you can take legal action against the doctor, but you have to show that by prescribing the opiates, the doctor acted negligently.

Duty of Care

In a clinical setting, a doctor must take care of the patient. Thus, the doctor is liable if the patient gets harmed while under their care, and that includes giving prescriptions, as is the case with every aspect of treatment.

It is essential to understand it’s not all the time that the doctor can be legally responsible for the harm arising out giving a prescription. Response to treatment may vary from one person to the other. Thus the doctor may not be necessarily negligent of things go wrong.

Showing Medical Negligence

To successfully sue a doctor or pharmacist for opiate addiction, you need to prove that the doctor acted negligently and abandoned the duty of care. It could be he or she gave you the wrong dose or drug or failed to notice your addiction.

Just like any other medical malpractice case, you have to prove four elements in an opiate addiction lawsuit namely:

  • Duty
  • Breach
  • Harm
  • Causation (damages)

All the four elements are intertwined, and failure to prove any of them translates to losing your claim. Thus to show malpractice, you must:

  • Show that the doctor or physician owed you the duty of care
  • He or she breached the said duty of care
  • Harm occurred due to the doctor’s breach of the burden of responsibility
  • Damages incurred as a result of the harm

The Principle of Reasonable Care in Prescribing Drugs

To show that it was the doctor’s failure to exercise reasonable care that caused your addiction, there has to scrutiny of your medical past. Sample these two scenarios:

You visit a medical facility seeking treatment for pain. You are recovering drug addict, but despite the doctor giving an opiate prescription, you don’t tell him or her about the addiction. A few days later you are using more drugs than prescribed to you, at an uncontrollable rate. In such an incident, the doctor cannot be liable for the addiction because you failed to tell him or her about the addiction.

In the second scenario, a patient notifies the doctor that he or she is a recovering addict, but in spite of the notification, the physician goes ahead to prescribe opiates to the patient. In the event of addiction, the doctor is deemed to be negligent and is liable.

…When you Don’t Have to Sue

Sure, going the legal way can help you recover some damages caused by opiate addiction. However, it doesn’t have to be the case, primarily because it is time-consuming not to mention that you might end up losing the argument. You can, instead, opt for other remedies such as CBD to help you deal with both the pain and addiction. And the beauty of it is that there will be no more prescription medications to help you deal with your condition.