Canadian study finds link between opioid prescriptions and fentanyl overdose

by Eric Pearson

A recent study published in Canada has found a link between prescriptions for opioid painkillers and a risk of a fatal fentanyl overdose. According to the study, 60% of patients who suffered a fatal fentanyl overdose had been prescribed opioids within the last year.

Researchers also found that 40% of patients in Canada who were prescribed opioid medications such as oxycodone, hydrocodone, or methadone in the year before their death went to three or more health care providers before getting their prescription. Under current Canadian law, doctors are not required to check a patient’s prescription history before prescribing an opioid painkiller.

Health experts say that other data showed that the access of many opioid users to the health care system may point to one way of helping to treat patients who suffer from opioid addiction or dependence. Researchers have found that 13% of fatal opioid overdoses in Canada last year occurred in patients who have been to the emergency room within 30 days prior to their death.

Experts say that treating opioid addition or abuse while patients are in the emergency room could help to reduce the number of fatal overdoses caused by these drugs. However, because of poor training, limited time, or a lack of resources, many patients do not receive the treatment that they need to prevent a fatal overdose from occurring.

In response to this problem, some health experts have been creating treatment protocols designed to help opioid dependent or addicted patients get treatment for their opioid abuse while they are at the hospital. One new treatment method is known as abridgement training, which helps to manage problems with opioid use in patients who are developing signs of addiction or abuse. Experts say that when doctors stop prescribing opioids to these patients abruptly, it can lead them to turn to drugs like fentanyl, putting them at risk of an overdose.

Some health experts believe that indiscriminate opioid prescribing practices on the part of physicians in Canada and the U.S. have played a key role in the growth of the opioid crisis. Many medical students and residents many not receive adequate training on how to properly prescribe opioid painkillers, which may lead to problems if their patient becomes dependent on these medications, or if they are treating a patient who shows signs of abuse. Basic screening techniques – such as asking patients about their history of drug or alcohol abuse, underlying mental health issues, or the nature of the pain there are experiencing – can help to reduce the problems caused by opioid prescriptions.

Aggressive advertising for opioid drugs on the part of the pharmaceutical industry has also played a key role in the explosion of cases of drug abuse, addiction, and overdose caused by opioid painkillers.

Opioid Overdose Lawsuits Filed by Heygood, Orr & Pearson

If you or a loved one have suffered an overdose caused by fentanyl or other opioid painkillers, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit against the drug’s manufacturer or the doctor or hospital that prescribed your medication. The first step in taking legal action is to speak with an attorney who can advise you regarding your legal options and guide you through the process of filing a case.

The law firm of Heygood, Orr & Pearson has handled more cases involving the fentanyl pain patch than all other law firms in the country – combined. Heygood, Orr & Pearson has also represented numerous individuals who have suffered overdoses or other complications from opioid painkiller prescriptions. Our firm has the training and experience to prosecute medical malpractice cases involving a wide array of other opioid medications, including hydrocodone, oxycodone, methadone, hydromorphone, and other drugs.

For more information about filing a fentanyl lawsuit and to find out whether you may qualify to file a case, contact the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001. You can also reach us by following the link to our free case evaluation form and answering a few brief questions about your case to get started.

by Eric Pearson

Eric Pearson is a licensed attorney and a partner at HO&P who handles commercial and personal injury lawsuits. Eric has been selected to the Super Lawyers List, a Thomson Reuters publication.