Can prescribing controlled substances to a known addict considered malpractice?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can prescribing controlled substances to a known addict considered malpractice?

My wife recently came out of a stay at a drug rehab facility. She had
an opioid, xanax, and ambien addiction. While in the facility, I
contacted her prescribing doctor and stated that my wife was not to
receive prescriptions for an opioids, benzo family of drugs, nor
ambien or ambien like medication. The doctor agreed, made the note in
her chart and cancelled the current prescriptions. I just learned that
the doctor has since written her a script for Ambien. Would this be
considered malpractice?

Asked on April 10, 2017 under Malpractice Law, Indiana


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Medical malpractice is negligence.  Negligence is the failure to exercise due care (that degree of care that a reasonable medical practitioner in the community would have exercised under the same or similar circumstances to prevent foreseeable harm).
Although it may appear that the doctor's action was malpractice, in order to have a viable medical malpractice case, a documented injury is required.  If your wife did not take Ambien that the doctor prescribed and therefore did not have a relapse of her addiction or other adverse consequences, there is no medical malpractice case without a documented injury.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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