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Opioid Addiction and Medical Malpractice

Published on February 9, 2022

Opioid addiction is a significant problem in the United States, and opioids make up a significant percentage of overdose deaths every year.  More than 136 Americans die each day due to opioid overdose.  

From the 1990s to the 2000s, pharmaceutical companies touted prescription opioids as a safe and non-addictive form of pain relief for patients.  Patients and the medical community now know this to be untrue.  

Although prescription painkillers are helpful when used correctly under medical supervision, misuse of these medications can quickly lead to dependence and addiction.  This has resulted in lawsuits by patients and their families against opioid manufacturers, doctors, and pharmacists.

What are Opioids?

Opioids are a class of drugs that include the illegal drug heroin, synthetic opioids such as fentanyl, and pain relievers available legally by prescription.  Many prescription opioids mimic the effects that heroin has on the body. 

Any of the following commonly prescribed medications are considered opioids:

  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin);
  • Oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet);
  • Morphine;
  • Codeine;
  • Fentanyl;
  • Demerol;
  • Tramadol;
  • Dilaudid; and
  • Methadone.

Who is to Blame for an Opioid Overdose?

When a medical professional makes a pharmaceutical error that causes serious harm to or the death of a patient, they may be held responsible for that mistake.

Possible medical mistakes include, but are not limited to:

  • Prescribing the wrong dosage of medicine;
  • Administering the wrong dosage of medicine;
  • Failure to monitor the patient after dosage; and
  • Failure to check for drug interactions with other prescription medications.

The physician and the pharmacist or hospital may be liable for any medication errors.

Proving Medical Malpractice in an Opioid Addiction Case

In medical malpractice, a healthcare provider causes injury to a patient due to negligence, omission, or an error.  Proving medical malpractice in an opioid addiction or overdose death can be complicated as doctors prescribe opioids as a standard practice.  

A viable medical malpractice claim must show:

  • There was a doctor or provider/patient relationship;
  • The medical provider violated the standard of care or accepted medical practice that a responsible provider would use given the same circumstances;
  • The patient suffered injuries as a result of the violation; and
  • There are compensable damages.

Damages Available in an Opioid Lawsuit 

A medical malpractice lawsuit is the legal means by which a patient or their personal representative can seek compensation for any damages caused by opioid addiction or overdose.  

In a successful opioid medical malpractice lawsuit, compensation may be recovered for any monetary, emotional, and mental losses suffered, including:

  • Medical expenses;
  • Funeral expenses;
  • Loss of wages and other income;
  • Lost earning capacity;
  • Loss of companionship;
  • Loss of consortium; and
  • Pain and suffering.


Contact an Experienced Phoenix Opioid Malpractice Attorney

If you or a loved one suffered an opioid addiction or overdose due to a medical provider’s negligence, the opioid malpractice lawyers at Knapp & Roberts could help.  One of our attorneys can confidentially review your case at no cost and advise you of any legal rights you may have for recovery against a doctor, hospital, surgery center, or another provider.

Let Knapp & Roberts help you or your family pursue justice.  Doing so can not only offer you closure, but it can also help to prevent a similar event from happening to another patient in the future.  Contact us today for a free case review.


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The personal injury attorneys in Phoenix, Arizona, at Knapp & Roberts have the compassion and trial lawyer skills to tell your story to a jury. We will get to know you and your family so that we can help the jury understand what has happened to you and your family and how it has changed your lives. Obtain the compensation necessary for the injuries and losses you have suffered.