In recent years, the full scope of the opioid crisis has come to light. Many people have become addicted, some have passed away due to overdoses and public focus has often shifted to the doctors who are writing those prescriptions.
For many doctors, this crisis comes as just as much of a shock as it does for the family members of those who have struggled with drug abuse. Opioids, after all, are a very effective way to treat pain. A doctor may simply have felt that he or she was helping patients get through the issues they faced after injury or surgery, though reports are now questioning how many prescriptions they wrote or how large those prescriptions were.
One recent example is a report claiming that medical guidelines in some cases said that people should not get any painkillers, should get just 10 pills for use right after the procedure or should get as many as 30 pills. Instead, the report claims, some doctors wrote prescriptions giving people more than 100 pills.
From your perspective as a doctor, you may have seen the pain the person was in and assumed they would be better off with more pills to manage that pain for longer. If they didn’t need them, you instructed them to dispose of the extras. You thought you were helping. You never wanted to do anything else. But now reports like this make it appear that you contributed intentionally or negligently to the crisis. Is that fair? Of course not — but that’s not how a prosecutor may see it.
This is why doctors need to be wary of writing too many prescriptions — and why they need to know what legal defense options they have when accused of drug crimes or some other kind of illegal activity associated with prescription opioids.