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Illinois Opioid Injury Attorney

Illinois Opioid Prescription Injury Attorney

Chicago Medical Malpractice Attorney for Injuries Caused by Prescription Opioids

Over the past few decades, opioid abuse has become rampant in the United States. Even though "hard drugs" such as heroin are known to be very dangerous, prescription medications that are composed of similar substances are used commonly for pain management and other purposes. These drugs can be highly addictive, and they can lead to a number of ongoing health issues. Because of the potential dangers associated with opioids, doctors' practices of prescribing these drugs are closely monitored. However, many of these drugs continue to be overprescribed, resulting in serious harm to patients. Those who have suffered injuries because of the use of opioid medications will want to determine their legal options, including pursuing a malpractice claim against a doctor or other medical provider.

As more and more people become aware of the harm that opioids can cause, those who have been negatively affected by these drugs may have legal avenues for addressing the injuries and damages they have experienced. In addition to taking legal action to address malpractice by medical professionals, victims may also be able to pursue product liability lawsuits against the manufacturers of prescription opioids, or they may be able to join mass torts alongside others who have been affected. Our attorneys understand the laws that affect these cases, and we can help victims determine the best steps to take to pursue compensation for the harm they have suffered.

Injuries Caused by Opioid Medications

As the name implies, opioids are composed of the same substance as opium, a drug that is made from poppy plants. Some opioids, such as fentanyl, may be synthesized using man-made chemicals rather than being derived from natural sources. Opioids affect the pain receptors in the brain, dulling the pain that a person feels. These drugs are typically used for people who experience severe, chronic pain due to a serious injury, a surgical procedure, or other ongoing health issues. Opioids may also be prescribed for those who are undergoing treatments such as chemotherapy that cause significant pain and discomfort.

While opioids can help manage pain, they have multiple serious side effects. They will often cause a person to experience drowsiness, dizziness, and confusion, as well as symptoms such as nausea and vomiting. A person may also experience depression, lower energy levels, reduced bodily strength, and a decreased sex drive.

Unfortunately, opioids can be highly addictive. In addition to relying on these drugs to reduce the ongoing pain they experience, users may experience sensations of pleasure after taking medications, leading them to increase their use of the drugs. As the body adjusts to the regular use of opioids, higher and higher doses may be needed to create the same effects, and the risk of an overdose increases significantly. In some cases, users may be unable to legally obtain medications at doses high enough to induce the desired effect, and they may turn to illegal sources. At higher doses, opioids can cause a person to experience a reduced heart rate, slower breathing, and other life-threatening symptoms. To make matters worse, a person who attempts to reduce their doses or stop using these drugs may experience withdrawal symptoms, and they may struggle to return to normalcy.

Opioid Injury FAQs

What Types of Opioid Drugs Are Available?

Prescription drugs that contain opioids include:

  • Hydrocodone (sold under brand names such as Vicodin, Norco, Lortab, and Zohydro)
  • Oxycodone (sold under brand names such as OxyContin, Tylox, Percocet, and Percodan)
  • Oxymorphone (sold under the brand name Opana)
  • Morphine
  • Codeine
  • Methadone
  • Tramadol
  • Hydromorphone (sold under brand names such as Dilaudid, Exalgo, and Palladone)
  • Meperidine (sold under brand names such as Demerol and Mepergan)

In addition to drugs that may be prescribed by medical professionals and used by patients to treat pain management, there are multiple illegal drugs that contain opioids. These include heroin, fentanyl, and opium.

How Common Is Opioid Use?

The use of opioids has increased significantly in recent years. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 190 million prescriptions for opioids are issued each year. Improper use of these drugs is an ongoing and increasing concern. More than 11 million people have reported misuse of opioids, and around 25 percent of patients who are prescribed opioids on a long-term basis struggle with addiction. Around 50,000 people die each year from opioid overdoses, and opioids account for around 70 percent of all drug overdose deaths in the United States.

When Can Prescribing Opioids Be Considered Medical Malpractice?

Because of the risks associated with opioids, doctors should take care when prescribing these medications. They should advise patients of the side effects they may experience, the risks of addiction and withdrawal, and the harmful interactions that may occur if a person combines opioids with other substances such as alcohol, prescription medications such as Xanax or Valium, or illegal drugs and controlled substances. Doctors should also work with patients to explore other treatment options that may be available to treat chronic pain or other conditions.

Doctors may commit medical malpractice if they do not take care to protect patients' health and safety when prescribing opioids. Medical malpractice involves a deviation from the standards that are followed by reasonable medical providers, and it may take multiple forms. These may include prescribing opioids without considering how they will affect a patient's reported health conditions, issuing prescriptions for higher doses than are safe, prescribing opioids for patients who have a history of addictions or other harmful behavior, failing to consider interactions between opioids and other medications, or failing to monitor patients' use of opioids and help them determine how to stop using drugs that may be having a negative effect on their health.

Contact Our Chicago Prescription Opioid Injury Attorneys

Even though the dangers of opioids are well-known, and multiple other options may be available for those who need to treat chronic pain, doctors continue to prescribe these medications, and drug companies continue to market them as safe to use. The overuse of these drugs has caused devastation for many families, including problems related to addiction, serious injuries or deaths due to overdoses, and multiple other types of injuries. Newland & Newland, LLP can help people who have been the victims of these dangerous drugs pursue compensation from all available sources. To learn how we can help with your case, contact us at 847-797-8000 for a free consultation.

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