Pro Hockey Player’s Accidental Death Highlights the Side Effects Risks of Painkillers Such as Oxycodone

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by Jim Orr

They called Derek Boogaard “The Boogeyman.” He was one of the most-feared “enforcers” in professional hockey. Boogaard was a fan favorite for the Minnesota Wild for five years before joining the New York Rangers for a final, injury-plagued season. He was essentially a professional fighter and, with all the fights, came pain. He became addicted to painkillers.

In May 2011, Boogaard was found dead in his Minneapolis apartment. He was only 28. The medical examiner ruled his death accidental, due to “mixed alcohol and oxycodone toxicity.”

Oxycodone is a semi-synthetic painkiller, also known as OxyContin. Oxycodone is one of the most frequently prescribed opioids. The drug is prescribed generically as oxycodone but also under the brand names Percodan, Percocet, Roxicodone, Tylox, OxyContin, and Roxicet. Oxycodone is the leading cause of prescription drug deaths in the U.S., in part due to the high rate of addiction associated with the drug.

The sad story of Derek Boogaard is just one more reminder of the dangers of powerful opiod painkillers, such as oxycodone. In an editorial entitled, “Chronic Noncancer Pain Management and Opioid Overdose: Time to Change Prescribing Practices” in the January 19, 2010 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, Dr. A. Thomas McLellan and Dr. Barbara Turner noted that:

  • Opioid overdose is among the most common causes of death
  • Although many overdoses are caused by people abusing the drugs, many overdoses occur when patients take the opioids as prescribed
  • Inadequate pain doctor supervision and monitoring create more overdose risks
  • Long-term opioid therapy carries too many risks to justify use without improvements in health status

Just last month, the Joint Commission (an independent, not-for-profit organization that accredits and certifies more than 19,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States) issued a report noting that adverse events with these drugs can be related to missteps by health care providers, such as:

  • Lack of knowledge about potency differences among opioids.
  • Improper prescribing and administration of multiple opioids and modalities of opioid administration (i.e., oral, parenteral and transdermal patches).
  • Inadequate monitoring of patients on opioids

If a loved one has died while using any of the many available, powerful opioid painkillers, do not assume the drug was properly prescribed, administered and monitored. It may be that the doctor who prescribed the medications was negligent.

Heygood, Orr & Pearson is among the leading law firms in the country bringing claims against opioid makers and the doctors who negligently prescribe them. Our many years of lawsuits regarding these powerful drugs have taught us that doctors and hospitals are often uneducated and inexperienced when it comes to prescribing, administering and monitoring patients using these powerful drugs.

You can reach us by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001, or by filling out our free case evaluation form located on this website.