Do I have a case for malpractice if my doctor prescribed a drug that is addicting?

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Do I have a case for malpractice if my doctor prescribed a drug that is addicting?

I go to a pain management doctor. He prescribed me a dangerous narcotic without discussing with me the dangers of the drug on the body such as my kidneys and never warned me of the powerful addicting properties of the drug. Now I’m addicted to this medication and believe it also is affecting my kidneys. Also, all the research I have done states how dangerous this medication is to just have a

patient stop cold turkey as opposed to wheening a patient of of the drug. Do I have a case against him?

Asked on June 28, 2017 under Malpractice Law, Ohio

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

The fact that it is addicting does not, by itself, equal malpractice--many useful drugs have dangerous or undesirable side effects, including all opiod-based painkillers, for example, and many other muscle relaxants (as well as all chemotherapy drugs and most psychopharmacological drugs). If the benefits outweigh the risks, then prescribing was a good medical decision, not malpractice.
But a failure to inform you of the risks involved, so that you could not make an informed decision as to whether to take the drug, that could constitute malpractice: doctors are supposed to obtain "informed consent" about dangerous procedures or medications, and without providing information, there can be no informed consent.
However, malpractice cases do not provide compensation for risks--only for harm that has in fact occured. If your kidneys have not been damaged yet (your belief as to what happened in not legally relevant; only medical evidence or testimony is), for example, you cannot recover compensation for what *might* happen. And regardless of the risks of withdrawal, if you have not yet suffered serious consequences from it or incurred large costs (e.g. in a rehabilitation center), then there is no yet anything to sue over.
First step: take care of your health. See another doctor or medical practice. Get off a drug which may be harming you if you are unwilling to take the risks and get some other treatment for your condition (the one which led to you being prescribed the drug in the first place). Find out how your kidneys are in fact doing.
After you taken care of your health and seen what consequences you suffered or costs you incurred, then you can speak to a medical malpractice attorney to see if you have a worthwhile case. Good luck.


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