Medical doctors have a legal obligation to look out for the health of their patients. Failure to do so may cause health hazards for patients as well as legal problems for the doctor, in Illinois or any other state. Unfortunately, it seems that one doctor may have failed to follow this legal obligation, resulting in the death of a patient. The doctor is now facing disciplinary action from the medical board regarding this case of apparent medical professional negligence.
This case revolves around the doctor’s claimed negligence in prescribing pain killer medication to his patient. The patient died in 2010 from an enlarged heart after being treated by the doctor for eight years. Apparently, the doctor may have made a mistake when prescribing higher dosages of painkillers, morphine and Oxycontin, after his patient requested it.
According to medical records, the doctor had realized that the patient had developed an addiction to opioids he had been prescribing. The patient had been suffering from osteoarthritis, back pain and fibromyalgia. The doctor advised the patient to reduce his intake of the opioids and offered him information on Pills Anonymous. However, the doctor did not offer the man any information about Alcoholics Anonymous even though the man had been previously hospitalized for alcohol withdrawal.
Subsequently, the doctor began to prescribe the patient Suboxone instead of Oxycontin, which can cause several withdrawal symptoms. Allegedly, the doctor began to use prescribing Suboxone and withholding Oxycontin as a punishment for the patient not keeping up with payments for his medical bills. The patient had stopped taking morphine around 12 hours prior to the doctor administering Suboxone to the patient.
The medical board suspended the doctor’s license for the alleged medical professional negligence. However, punishing the doctor does not do anything to help the family of the decedent. This is why if a family in Illinois or another jurisdiction loses a loved one as a result of possible medical malpractice, the family can pursue a lawsuit against the medical professional which the family believes to be responsible.
Source: The Orange County Register, “Santa Ana doctor disciplined for negligence in prescribing painkillers“, Jenna Chandler, Oct. 6, 2014