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Reckless Prescribing Is A Crime

Posted on December 10, 2012

One of the most overlooked examples of medical malpractice is reckless prescribing. Recently, a notorious physician was released from prison after only serving half of his sentence. He was known for prescribing pain medication and other narcotics to his patients. Some of them died because of his negligence.

Medical malpractice cases that result in deaths should receive a high priority. According to board records and coroner files, however, this is not always the case. It is imperative to be careful every time you go to the doctor.

US Navy 030414-N-0728B-002 Ensign Jill Skeet f...

US Navy 030414-N-0728B-002 Ensign Jill Skeet from Williamsburg, Kan., administers pain medication to an unidentified Iraqi woman who arrived in Fleet Hospital Three^rsquo,s (FH-3) Casualty Receiving room with a gunshot wound (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At least 30 patients in Southern California have died of drug overdoses or related causes while their doctors were under investigation for reckless prescribing. The board ultimately sanctioned all but one of those 12 doctors, and some were criminally charged — too late to prevent the deaths.

The board seldom tries to suspend the prescribing privileges of doctors under investigation. The agency can petition a judge for an interim suspension order. It has obtained orders only rarely: 12 times in the last five years in cases of excessive prescribing, in a state with more than 100,000 practicing physicians.

Even when the board sanctions doctors for abusing their prescribing powers, in most cases it allows them to continue practicing and prescribing. In 80% of the 190 cases of improper prescribing filed by the board since 2005, the offending physician was given a reprimand or placed on probation. In most of those cases, the doctor was allowed to continue writing prescriptions with few or no restrictions.

Eight doctors disciplined for excessive prescribing later had patients die of overdoses or related causes. Prescriptions those doctors wrote caused or contributed to 19 deaths.

At the heart of these shortcomings is the board’s approach to oversight. It investigates when it receives a complaint of abuse or poor treatment of a specific patient or patients. It generally does not look for evidence of wider problems in a physician’s practice.

If a loved one was the victim of wrongful death that was caused by negligence or some other form of reckless behavior, it is important that you contact a committed and dedicated personal injury lawyer to help you decide if you should file a lawsuit. A competent and reputable injury lawyer can help you receive the compensation you deserve for your pain and suffering.

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