Opioid painkiller use increases car accident risk in seniors, study finds

by Eric Pearson

A new study conducted by researchers in Sweden has found that seniors who drive a car shortly after beginning treatment with opioid painkillers are more likely to be involved in a car accident than seniors who are treated with non-opioid drugs. Researchers in the study said that seniors who have started taking opioid medications should avoid driving while taking these drugs in order to reduce their risk of an accident.

The study, which was published in the journal Age and Aging, examined the histories of about 4,500 drivers age 50-80 years old who had been involved in a car accident, as well as more than 17,000 drivers in the same age range who had not been involved in a crash. Researchers found that new opioid users were twice as likely to be involved in a car accident as patients taking one or two non-opioid pain relievers. Opioid users who had not recently started treatment with these medications were about 60-70% more likely than non-users to be involved in a crash.

Researchers said that they were uncertain whether the regular opioid users had a lower accident risk because their bodies had become acclimated to the drugs, or whether another factor was at work. One researcher speculated that long term users may have voluntarily tapered off their dose as a result of side effects from their opioid prescriptions.

Health experts said that the results of the study should convince doctors about the importance of talking with their patients about the dangers of opioid medications before prescribing these drugs. Because the risk of accidents increases as we age, elderly patients taking opioids may be especially vulnerable to impairment from these medications that could affect their driving. Seniors are also more likely to be taking numerous medications than younger patients, creating a danger of drug interactions or combined effects that could put patients at risk.

Opioid Overdose Victims May Qualify to Take Legal Action

Patients who have suffered an overdose or other serious complications from opioid painkillers may be eligible to file a lawsuit against the manufacturers of these drugs. When these complications are the result of inappropriate prescribing practices by a doctor, hospital, or medical staff, patients may also qualify to take legal action against the medical personnel whose negligence was responsible for their injuries.

If you or a loved one have suffered side effects from opioid painkillers such as hydrocodone, oxycodone, morphine, fentanyl, or methadone, you may be eligible to take legal action against the drug manufacturers or the doctor or hospital that prescribed the medications. The first step in taking legal action is to speak with a law firm whose attorneys have the experience with lawsuits involving opioid painkillers and other dangerous drugs to advise you of your legal rights.

The lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson have filed hundreds of lawsuits on behalf of patients who have been injured by dangerous drugs or defective medical products. Our lawyers have filed dozens of lawsuits on behalf of opioid overdose victims, and have handled more lawsuits involving the power opioid medications fentanyl than all other law firms in the country combined.

For a free legal consultation about your case and to find out if you qualify to file a lawsuit, contact the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001. You can also reach us by visiting the free case evaluation form located at the top of this page and answering a few simple questions 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.