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Can You Sue a Doctor for Overprescribing Medication?

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When a doctor strays from standard medical practice, causing harm to a patient, the patient may have a case for medical malpractice. However, when can you sue a doctor for overprescribing medication? Our Columbia medication error attorney at The Louthian Law Firm can help you understand the elements of this potential medical malpractice case and the legal avenues available to you in South Carolina.

Why Are Doctors Under Pressure To Prescribe So Many Meds?

Doctors often face pressure to prescribe medications for systemic and external reasons. One significant contributor is the pharmaceutical industry, which invests heavily in marketing, promoting their drugs directly to doctors through medical representatives, advertisements in medical journals and sponsored medical conferences. These promotional strategies, at times, can influence a physician’s decision to prescribe certain medications, even if subconsciously.

Patient expectations also play a role in this dynamic. Today, information is readily accessible, and many patients come to consultations with preconceived notions about what treatments they should receive. If a doctor refrains from prescribing the anticipated medication, patients may feel unheard and seek a different health care provider. Regardless, doctors have a responsibility to hold fast to medical standards of care and prescribe based on their expertise.

Logistical pressures within the medical profession can impact prescription habits as well. Time constraints in a busy clinical setting might lead doctors to opt for a quicker prescription rather than comprehensive patient education or alternative treatments. Additionally, in some health care systems, patient satisfaction scores or the volume of patients seen tie back to doctors’ compensation models. Such structures can inadvertently incentivize more prescription writing. Coupled with this, the looming fear of malpractice lawsuits can lead doctors toward overprescribing as a form of defensive medicine.

Beyond the pressure to prescribe more of a drug, there are mistakes sometimes made when prescription writing or medication dispensing which cause a patient to take too much of a drug than is safe.

When Does Too Much of a Drug Elevate to Medical Malpractice?

At its most basic level, medical malpractice occurs when a health care professional, through a negligent act or omission, causes harm or injury to a patient. Administering an incorrect drug dosage or prescribing too much of a drug can potentially result in harm. The elevation of overprescribing to the level of medical malpractice depends on several factors.

First, there must be an established relationship between yourself and the doctor accused of malpractice. This relationship confirms that the doctor owed you a duty of care.

Second, you must have proof that the doctor breached their duty. If the prescribed or administered dosage deviates significantly from accepted medical standards or protocols, it would indicate a breach of the duty of care.

You also need to link the overprescription directly to your injury or harm, showing that the doctor’s negligence was the proximate cause of your injury.

Finally, you should demonstrate that the injury resulted in quantifiable damages. Since medical malpractice cases are among the most challenging personal injury claims, especially when facing a defendant with extensive legal resources, consulting a personal injury attorney is an asset to your claim.

What Damages Can You Recover From Suing a Doctor for Prescribing Too Much Medication?

The court refers to the losses you suffered from someone else’s negligence as compensatory damages. In a medical malpractice case, the types of economic and non-economic losses can vary depending on many factors. However, there are some expected recoverable losses among these cases.

Economic damages

The economic damages in a medical malpractice case compensate for the financial impact of your injuries. Common examples include:

  • The cost of medical treatment for the injuries caused by overprescribing medication
  • The wages lost due to missed work or loss of earning capacity
  • The cost of home modifications if your injury leads to disability and requires assistive devices
  • Any out-of-pocket expenses related to your injuries

Maintaining detailed records and documentation to substantiate these claims is essential. With that information, a personal injury attorney can help you build a strong case for compensation.

Non-economic damages

Non-economic damages cover the mental and emotional consequences of your injuries. For example, you can seek compensation for the physical pain and suffering you endured from your injuries. The court also recognizes the emotional distress medical malpractice can cause. The value of these losses will depend on the impact your injuries had on your life. A personal injury attorney will walk you through the process of assigning monetary value to non-economic damages.

Punitive damages

Can you sue a doctor for overprescribing medication and receive punitive damages? The court awards punitive damages for the primary purpose of punishing the defendant for particularly egregious or reckless behavior and deterring similar conduct in the future. Punitive damages come into play when the defendant’s actions go beyond mere negligence and constitute willful, wanton or malicious misconduct.

In South Carolina, there is a cap on punitive damages in medical malpractice cases. Specifically, the most you can receive is $500,000 or three times the compensatory damages, whichever is greater.

You Can Sue a Doctor for Overprescribing Medication With the Help of a Personal Injury Lawyer

If you suffered harm because of doctors over-prescribing medication, you may have a case for compensation. At The Louthian Law Firm, personal injury attorney wields decades of experience and has a resourceful legal team to help medical malpractice victims and their families recover from the devastation an excessive dosage can cause. We will listen to the details of your case and help you take the next step toward recovery. Contact us in Columbia, South Carolina, to schedule your free consultation today.

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