State lawmakers try to curb the nationwide epidemic of accidental painkiller overdoses

by Eric Pearson

State lawmakers across the country have taken action to curb the rising number of accidental overdoses caused by prescription painkillers. According to a recent report by the non-profit group Trust for America’s Heath, deaths from prescription painkillers in the U.S.—including drugs such as fentanyl, hydrocodone, oxycodone, and methadone—now outnumber deaths from heroin and cocaine combined.

The new report on painkiller overdoses and abuse in the U.S. found that West Virginia led the country with 28.9 painkiller overdose deaths per 100,000. The five states with the highest number of fatal overdoses—West Virginia, New Mexico, Kentucky, Nevada, and Oklahoma—were all located in the southwestern or Appalachian regions of the country.

The report faulted several states for their failure to take adequate precautions to limit painkiller abuse and reduce the number of overdoses caused by these drugs. In Pennsylvania, for example, officials found that the state lacked a monitoring program to track painkiller prescriptions, did not do enough to educate doctors about the dangers of opioid overprescription and drug abuse, and had no law to require a patient to show their ID before receiving prescription drugs.

Despite the shortcomings highlighted in the Trust for America’s Heath report, a number of other states have begun to take measures to reduce the number of painkiller overdoses and the frequency of addiction and abuse.

  • Ranked fourth in the country for prescription drug overdose deaths, Nevada officials have increased the number of drug treatment facilities in the state and passed tough new laws to prevent drug abuse.
  • After prescription painkiller overdose passed car accidents as the leading cause of accidental death in the state of Ohio, Gov. John Kasich created a new online drug reporting system which will allow doctors to track whether their patients have been prescribed high doses of drugs such as morphine.
  • New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie convened a task force to offer recommendations on how the state could lower the number of cases of addiction and accidental overdoses caused by prescription painkillers such as OxyContin.

Heygood, Orr & Pearson fights for painkiller overdose victims

If you or a loved one has experienced addiction, abuse, or an overdose involving prescription painkiller medications, you may be eligible to receive compensation for your injuries. Too often, the irresponsible way that these powerful and potentially deadly medications are prescribed by doctors leads to life-altering consequences for patients.

Physicians who have not been properly trained in pain management can prescribe larger-than-necessary opioid painkiller prescriptions to their patients, increasing the risks of abuse or addiction. In other cases, patients can be prescribed excessive doses of the drug that could place them in danger of an overdose or death.

The law firm of Heygood, Orr & Pearson has fought for years on behalf of patients who have been injured by painkiller medications, including the fentanyl pain patch. When patients suffer serious injuries or other life-changing consequences from opioid overprescription by doctors, we believe that they should be held accountable for their irresponsible actions in a court of law.

For a free legal consultation about your case, and to find out whether you may be eligible to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the doctor or hospital that was responsible for giving you an inappropriate painkiller prescription, contact the lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson. You can reach us by calling toll-free at 1-877-446-9001, or by filling out the short case evaluation form located at the top of this page.

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.