Drug overdose deaths have quadrupled since 1999 to become the leading cause of injury-related death in the United States. During a crisis like this one, people often look for someone to blame. That someone is often the doctor who prescribed the opioid painkillers. About 5% of opioid users become addicted. Sometimes, addiction occurs even though the patient does not abuse the drug.
Doctors who overprescribe opioids face both civil and criminal liability. It is important to have an attorney on your side who understands the complexities of these cases.
Criminal Liability in Illinois
The law contains a number of technical provisions related to overprescription. Basically, lawmakers feel that lax practices make overprescription possible. So, there are tough penalties for items like:
- Failure to have the proper license,
- Dispensing medication to a non-patient, including yourself,
- Failure to keep proper records, and
- Prescribing more than 120 milliliters or 120 grams of a Schedule V substance (basically anything with codeine).
In most cases, it is also illegal for doctors to arrange for mail-in prescriptions of any controlled substance. The patient must appear in person at a pharmacy and present proper identification.
Civil Liability in Illinois
In addition to criminal actions or actions against their licenses, some doctors in Chicago are sued for negligence. Some factors to consider in medical malpractice cases include:
- The doctor’s complaint history in Illinois and any other states
- The patient’s medical history
- Prior relationship between doctor and patient (e.g. is the patient a “doctor-shopper”)
- Physician’s specialty
- The doctor’s objective medical findings
- The state of the medical literature for that particular condition
In medical malpractice cases, the injury must have been foreseeable. In other words, the doctor must have had reason to believe that the patient might become addicted to the painkillers or abuse them.
A medical malpractice finding could be a basis for action against your license. It will almost certainly involve a judgement for money damages.
Opioid addiction and allegations of illegally prescribing opioids are the focus of increasing federal and state law enforcement resources. Thomas Glasgow is uniquely situated to handle cases dealing with opioid prescription and illegal use of opioids. As a former narcotics special prosecutor for the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office, Thomas Glasgow has worked with agents of the DEA, FBI, ATF and Chicago Narcotics Police agencies to prosecute narcotics offenders. He was also the Chief of the Medical Prosecutions for IDPFR, the agency charged with legal actions against medical doctors, osteopaths, and dentists for violations of the medical practice act, including overprescribing pain medication. His highly specialized experience in these areas have resulted in him successfully defending health care professionals and private individuals against the unlimited resources of the Federal and State government.
Connect with Tenacious Attorneys
Doctors who over-prescribe opioids must deal with several legal issues. For a confidential consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Schaumburg, contact Glasgow & Olsson.
(image courtesy of Piron Guillaume)