How Medical Malpractice Accelerated the Opioid Epidemic

In 2016 and 2017 alone, the opioid epidemic claimed more than 130 lives every single day, with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimating more than 40% of these deaths involved a legally prescribed opioid. Even without considering the toll of overdose deaths, more than 11.4 million people in total misused prescription opioids over that same time period, putting them at risk for addiction to even more dangerous substances.

So what caused this deadly crisis, and how did it become a threat to so many lives? While many parties share in the blame, from overseas drug dealers to pharmaceutical companies, ultimately it was physician negligence that first allowed so many American patients to become addicted. Now in the thrall of opioid addiction, many former patients live in constant fear of drug withdrawal, turning to higher doses and more addictive substances to prevent system shut-down. And more often than not, a negligent doctor first gave them a blanket prescription for drugs like OxyContin and other opiate pain relievers.


Many books have been written and studies performed on the nationwide opioid epidemic, which was declared a public health emergency just last year. It has cost the United States government more than $78 billion a year for the last 5 years, and yet the crisis still shows no signs of waning. Experts predict that up to 650,000 more people could die over the next decade.

In her new book Dopesick, journalist Beth Macy meticulously chronicles the role of physician negligence in creating and prolonging this crisis. According to her research, the makers of OxyContin claimed that it only caused addiction in less than 1% of cases, and they hired more than 5,000 medical professionals to share this statistic in country-wide tours and promotional events. These doctors and nurses often received free meals, gifts, and trips in exchange for prescribing OxyContin, paying little attention to the potential for drug abuse in their patients.

Macy also posits that doctors are not currently doing enough to correct the opioid epidemic even after contributing to it. Multiple low-cost treatments have been shown to improve addiction recovery chances and help patients fight overdose, such as Suboxone and methadone – but not enough doctors are asking to become trained in these treatments to combat the crisis. Although national rates of opioid prescriptions have gone down, the damage has already been done for many.


At Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton, LLP, our medical malpractice attorneys can stand up to physicians who have been careless in prescribing dangerous drugs. We understand that the cycle of addiction can be difficult to break and that you may be afraid to seek help for your pain and suffering due to the stigma against addicts. When you work with our compassionate team, you can rest assured that we will protect your rights as a patient, and help you get the compensation you need to break free of opioids.

If you or your loved one have suffered from opioid addiction because of a careless medical professional, contact Hare Wynn at 800-568-5330. We have more than 130 years of experience assisting patients who have suffered after using prescribed drugs.

Share This:

Get My FREE Case Review