A Colorado man has filed a lawsuit against a local pain clinic which he says negligently prescribed a fatal dose of the drug methadone to his wife. The lawsuit alleges that staff members at Pain Partners MD in Lafayette, Colorado overprescribed the powerful painkiller to patient Wendy Tracy, causing her to die from methadone intoxication less than two weeks after beginning treatment.
According to the lawsuit, Tracy was switched from oxycodone to methadone at Pain Partners in March 2009. A physician assistant at the clinic indicated on her chart that Tracy should take two methadone tablets twice a day, but wrote a prescription for twice that amount—four pills twice a day—the lawsuit states.
Ten days after filling the prescription from Pain Partners, Tracy was found dead in her home of methadone intoxication. Autopsy results revealed that at the time of her death, Tracy had more than twice the threshold for a fatal dose of methadone in her bloodstream.
Painkiller and opioid overprescription is a major problem in the U.S., placing thousands of patients at risk of overdose, addiction, or other health problems as a result of the overuse of drugs such as fentanyl, hydrocodone, codeine, methadone and oxycodone. According to a recent study published by the Archives of Internal Medicine, about one in 14 patients who undergo a “low pain, short stay” medical procedure receive narcotic opioid painkillers following surgery. More than one in 10 of these patients were dependent on these drugs a year after undergoing the procedure.