Furr & Henshaw
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Painkiller prescriptions increase for VA patients

South Carolina residents may be interested in new data from the Department of Veterans Affairs that shows a dramatic increase in the prescribing of opiates to injured and suffering troops. According to the data, prescriptions of opiates to VA patients have increased by 270 percent since Sept. 11, 2001. The four main opiates being prescribed are hydrocodone, oxycodone, methadone and morphine.

According to some experts, the rise in opiate drug prescription and medication errors is a serious problem. Some believe that rather than treat injuries and illnesses, the opiates serve to mask the true issues. The result is an increase in prescription drug addiction, more sever illness and even death.

One Army paratrooper recently died after being treated with opiates in a VA hospital in Oregon. The trooper was addicted to painkillers and had been ordered to enter the hospital to get clean. However, once in the hospital, he became addicted to more painkillers. Medical records indicate the trooper had trouble staying awake in the hospital because he was on so many drugs. He was subsequently released from the hospital for a weekend with a prescription for 19 medications, including 12 pills of oxycodone. Soon after his release, he was found dead from a drug overdose in his hotel room.

Medication errors can lead to serious illness, injury and death. Unfortunately, these errors can often happen in hospitals where the staff is stretched thin and caring for too many patients. Individuals who suffer from medication error or malpractice can file a suit for damages related to their injuries. In fatal instances of medication error, the family members of the deceased may be able to file suit. An attorney with medication error and medical malpractice experience could help individuals prepare and present their case and obtain fair compensation.

Source: PBS, "VA's opiate overload feeds veterans' addictions, leading to overdose deaths", Aaron Glantz, October 03, 2013

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