Wrongful Death Lawsuit Filed Over Fentanyl Patch Prescription

by Jim Orr

Lena Williams was a patient of Dr. Joseph Yazdi at the Southern Illinois Brain and Spine Center in March 2012. In a recently filed wrongful death lawsuit, Ms. William’s surviving daughter claims the doctor prescribed fentanyl transdermal, a pain patch designed to deliver 50 micrograms per hour of pain medication. Two days after beginning the medication, Ms. Williams had a heart attack and died. She contends the cause of death was an excessive dose of fentanyl. The lawsuit alleges the doctor improperly prescribed the fentanyl patch and that Ms. Williams died from an excessive dose of fentanyl.

Prescribing errors with the fentanyl patch

The ignorance of doctors when it comes to this drug product is shocking. Common mistakes that our firm has seen doctors commit in prescribing fentanyl patches that cause deaths include:

Prescribing them for acute or post operative pain. Fentanyl patches should not be used for short term pain or post operative pain, and violating this rule can cause death. Our firm has represented the families of patients killed by patches improperly prescribed after surgery for reflux, after a broken arm and after a hysterectomy.

Overestimating the initial dose of fentanyl patches. Patients who start fentanyl patch therapy are usually being converted from another opioid pain medication. When this is done, the correct dose has to be carefully selected. Overestimating the initial dose can cause death. Our firm has settled numerous wrongful death lawsuits after a doctor overestimated the dose and the patient died on the first patch.

Prescribing fentanyl patches to opioid naïve patients. Fentanyl patches clearly warn that they are only appropriate for patients who have already been taking the equivalent of 60 mg of morphine a day for a week or longer. A consequence of violating this rule can be death. Our firm has recently settled numerous wrongful death cases where patients who had never taken any opioids or had only used mild amounts of opioids were prescribed fentanyl patches and died on the first patch.

Prescribing fentanyl patches to patients with significant pulmonary problems. Because fentanyl can cause respiratory depression, extreme caution should be utilized in prescribing fentanyl patches to patients predisposed to respiratory depression because of pulmonary conditions such as COPD. Our firm has settled numerous wrongful death lawsuits involving doctors that have ignored this warning and killed their patient.

Prescribing fentanyl patches at the same time as other CNS depressant medications. Because the combined use of fentanyl patches with other CNS depressants can cause death, prescribing these medications together has to be done with extreme caution. Our firm has also seen this warning violated by doctors frequently.

Heygood, Orr & Pearson fighting for patient safety

The lawyers at Heygood, Orr & Pearson are among the nation’s leaders in handling cases involving potent opioids, and our law firm has the experience to prosecute medical malpractice cases involving a wide array of serious opioid painkillers, including Vicodin and Hydrocodone, OxyContin and Oxycodone, Methadone, Hydromorphone, Fentanyl, and others.

With respect to fentanyl, Heygood, Orr & Pearson has successfully prosecuted more cases involving deaths due to fentanyl products than all the other firms in the country combined. We have spent years studying fentanyl, its uses and its misuses. We have deposed hundreds of doctors, scientists and experts on the subject of fentanyl products.

If you or a loved one has experienced the tragedy of losing a family member as a result of Fentanyl pain patch usage, you and your family deserve answers to your questions. If the loss was as a result of a prescribing error, you have the right to demand that the responsible healthcare provider be held accountable. Contact us for a free consultation so we can help you determine the best way to protect your legal rights and interests.

To receive a free legal consultation and find out if you are eligible to file a case, please call our toll-free number at 1-877-446-9001, or by filling out our free case evaluation form located on this page.

by Jim Orr

Jim Orr is a licensed attorney and a partner at HO&P focusing on business and personal injury litigation. Jim was selected multiple times to the Super Lawyers List and has tried 70+ cases to verdict.