Prescription painkiller addictions have quickly become a widespread problem in the U.S., a phenomenon that has been closely followed by officials and lawmakers. However, even after Michael Jackson's death, the prevalence of prescription painkiller overdoses hasn't gotten enough attention. An estimated 16,600 Americans died from prescribed painkiller overdoses in 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
What's especially alarming is the trend in painkiller overdoses among women. In 1999, 1,300 women died in painkiller overdoses. In 2010, that number reached 6,600; marking an 80 percent increase in roughly a decade's time.
Fatal painkiller overdoses in women occur at "rates that we have never seen before," said Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC.
Frieden finds it especially problematic because patients don't realize the power and risks of prescribed painkillers, including Oxycodone, OxyContin, Percocet and Vicodin. Equally damaging, many doctors don't appreciate how prevalent the problem is and don't do enough to monitor patient usage and guard against abuse.
In some overdoses, a physician or pharmacist may bear some of the blame through criminal charges or through the relevant state licensing board. When negligence is involved, an overdose fatality victim's family may be able to recover compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit.
If your family has been devastated by a painkiller overdose where the drugs were prescribed by the deceased's physician, contact an experienced medication errors attorney to discuss your right to bring a lawsuit to collect money damages.
McKeen & Associates, P.C., is a successful national law firm that focuses on medical negligence. Based in Detroit, Michigan, its staff of attorneys adeptly represents victims living throughout the U.S.
Source: New York Times, "Painkiller Overdoses In Women," Editorial Board, July 7, 2013