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Do you have a malpractice case if a doctor over-prescribes drugs?

Prescription medications can be a double-edged sword for some people. These controlled substances exist to help a person overcome an illness or discomfort, but many drugs can become habit-forming and dangerous.

For example, 12 people die every hour from unintentional overdoses, and opioid use disorder touches the lives of 25% of Americans. What liability do doctors bear when overprescribing medications?

The 4 Ds of malpractice

A patient can determine whether a malpractice case is valid by considering four principles:

  1. Duty of care: Did the doctor owe the patient a reasonable standard of care by entering a relationship or agreement to provide medical treatment?
  2. Dereliction of duty: Did the doctor make an error or demonstrate negligence that another reasonable professional in the same field would not?
  3. Direct causation: Did the doctor’s actions directly lead to the harm a patient suffered?
  4. Damages: Can the patient prove actual damages as a result of the doctor’s negligence?

As an example, if a primary care physician knowingly prescribes more painkillers than a patient requires, the person may suffer from health issues or have an accident due to overdosing. The physician is likely liable to cover the cost of resulting damages.

How a malpractice attorney can help

Proving a medical malpractice case may not be straightforward. An injured patient needs to gather substantial evidence to convince the court. Even with the evidence, the legal team of the defendant may have witnesses and testimony to support a defense.

Also, a plaintiff in a malpractice case only has one year to file such claims in Kentucky, meaning a person must act quickly to recover damages. For this reason, the assistance of a malpractice attorney can help a person present a strong argument for maximum compensation.

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- Michael L. Hawkins