Categories: Medical Malpractice Defense,

Patients addicted to their medication may be able to bring legal action against their doctors and drug manufacturers, medical malpractice attorneys in Florida report. A state senator from Las Vegas has introduced a bill in response to the "painkiller epidemic" he claims is rampant in the United States. This bill has been widely disputed among the medical community, and doctors and patients alike have taken issue with the senator's proposal.

In SB-75, Senator Richard Segerblom (D-Las Vegas) seeks to allow patients to bring civil action suits against their physicians. Common law allows a plaintiff to file a lawsuit in the event of fraud or negligence, or when a product brings about suffering or pain. In his new legislation, the senator seeks to extend this right to patients who become addicted to medications prescribed by their physicians "if [the physician] should have known of the person's addiction to the prescription drug." SB-75 is aimed not only at prescriptions, but also at Nevada's marijuana program, which has been in existence for over a decade. The senator proposes that patients using marijuana for medical purposes could sue their doctors if they become addicted to the drug.

But doctors and other medical professionals argue that the patient should have the right to assess their own choices when deciding on treatment methods. Some drugs available for managing pain are addictive, but their healing properties could outweigh the risk of dependency. Terminally ill patients may be willing to take a chance on addictive drugs in the hopes that the pills can lessen nausea or other debilitating side effects of diseases such as cancer. David Johnson, MD, a physician who opposes the bill, has claimed that it will "tie the hands of physicians and take away the rights of patients to choose which risk to assume while seeking treatment."

The bill has been met with similar opposition by medical malpractice defense lawyers who are concerned about their clients' rights. Allowing addicted patients to bring lawsuits against the professionals who treat them could undermine the doctor-patient relationship. It also limits the options that doctors may feel comfortable presenting to their patients when determining how best to offer treatment, especially if the doctor might face litigation while treating an ongoing disease.

While it does not look like this bill will be making the rounds in courtrooms anytime soon, the experienced medical malpractice defense lawyers at Florida law firm Lubell Rosen say that measures like SB-75 in Nevada could start a ripple effect in medical laws across the country. The health care system needs full disclosure to effectively fight sickness. Patients have a right to participate actively in their own treatment, and to be aware of all the avenues available to them, and physicians have the right to be protected for offering these choices to their patients.

The medical malpractice defense lawyers at Lubell Rosen represent any doctors and medical professionals facing litigation from patients, addicted or otherwise.