A doctor in Iowa has been charged with eight counts of involuntary manslaughter for prescribing large amounts of narcotic painkillers to patients who died of overdoses, according to USA Today. One of the deceased individuals was something of a celebrity: one of the founding members of the heavy metal band Slipknot. In addition to the criminal charges, the physician will be facing medical malpractice lawsuits and wrongful death lawsuits, according to the report.
The dangers of narcotic painkillers are widely known. If too many of them are taken, they can easily cause death. Not all drug prescription deaths, however, come from overdoses. In some cases, the drugs themselves have proven to be deadly in one way or another.
Some pharmaceuticals make it onto the market before all of the side effects are widely known. As an example of this, hormonal birth control has been used for many years but, in some cases, particular types of this medication have been implicated in deaths resulting from blood clots, strokes, pulmonary embolism and other causes.
Unfortunately, when somebody dies of a prescription drug, the family may only have an option of filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the drug’s manufacturer. As in the case above, if it is a doctor’s behavior that causes the person to die of a drug that can be used with a reasonable amount of safety under certain circumstances, a medical malpractice claim would likely be the correct route. When the drug itself is deadly, however, it falls under the category of an unsafe product lawsuit or a defective product lawsuit.
Knowing the Risks
In cases where people sue over a dangerous drug, it’s generally because they were not aware that there were side effects that were potentially deadly. If a patient is informed of the side effects – such as in the case of a black box medication, such as Paxil – it’s difficult to file a lawsuit if the patient knowingly and willingly accepted the risks. As just an example of why this is the case, virtually nobody could take chemotherapy if it was impossible to give a drug that had potentially deadly side effects.
If you have lost a loved one due to a dangerous drug, however, you may want to consider contacting a product liability attorney. Likewise, if a physician negligently prescribed the drug in too great amounts or for incorrect condition, you may want to contact a medical malpractice attorney to pursue that matter.