Each year, more people in the United States die from prescription medication overdoses than from overdoses of cocaine and heroin combined, the CDC reports. Abuse of prescription drugs, especially painkillers, has become a serious crisis around the world. If you think the problem only impacts those who willingly go looking for drugs, think again. A number of these overdose victims were just patients following the orders of irresponsible doctors – and some of these physicians make the same mistake over and over again, costing innocent patients their lives and ripping permanent holes in their families. Nothing can erase the tragedies that have already occurred, but our firm recently found opportunity to prevent further unnecessary deaths by pursuing one such doctor’s medical license.
As much as we value the opportunity to help victims and their families after an accident, practicing personal injury law can be, well, sad. Every client you meet is living through a horrible nightmare that he or she simply doesn’t deserve. While you can help them, you can’t always help them as much as you’d like. No amount of money can restore a paralyzed victim’s ability to walk or bring a deceased family member back from the dead. When we started pursuing a particular over-prescription case, we vowed to help the grieving mother attain financial compensation for the loss of her adult son, but we knew there was no way for us to bring him back or end her sorrow. Research into his doctors’ practices uncovered three separate physicians who contributed to the overdose, and a shocking number of inexcusable practices by one specific physician. All told, we won a $1,650,000 settlement for the late victim’s family to start rebuilding their lives. That was the end, all we could do for this family – or so we thought.
A Repeat Offender
One of our client’s doctors had apparently made a habit of irresponsible drug prescription, instructing multiple patients throughout his practice to take too much of these controlled substances known to be both dangerous and addictive. When another client approached us with a similar case involving the very same physician, we knew that we had to not only help this client, but also do something to stop this problem from rearing its ugly head once again. One fatal overdose could perhaps be a mistake – we don’t buy the excuse, but at least you could argue that the doctor deserves the benefit of a doubt. Two such cases constitute a pattern, and they show an utter lack of regard for the health, safety, and lives of the very patients for whom this doctor was supposed to provide care. We promised this second grieving family that we will do all we can to make sure no one else has to go through what they are going through at the clearly incapable hands of this physician – even if that means getting the state involved and putting the doctor on the path to losing his license.
From a pair of tragic cases emerged an opportunity for our office to not only help victims after the fact, but act to prevent the same kind of catastrophic medical mistakes. It became a social responsibility, something that we felt we had a moral obligation to do. So much of our field is reactive, cleaning up the messes left by a negligent party. This chance to possibly prevent another person from dying, another family from experiencing such an unnecessary loss, gave us a higher purpose in this case. We weren’t just fighting for this one victim’s family but for all of the families out there who might someday be harmed by this medical negligence.
Social Responsibility for Personal Injury Attorneys
It’s not often that we personal injury attorneys get this opportunity. There’s little we can do to prevent car accidents or slip-and-falls, other than making public service announcements. If your firm handles medical malpractice claims, and especially over-prescribing claims, we urge you to do your homework to find out if the same doctors are causing the same fatal problems throughout their patient population. If that means collaborating with other firms – even your competitors – to find evidence of multiple claims against the doctor, do it. It’s a small but meaningful step that all of us can take to help our clients find some degree of closure, and if it saves the life or health of just one single patient, it’s worth every second of our time.