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Massachusetts medical malpractice: Doctors abusing drugs

Massachusetts residents may or may not realize that anywhere from 10 to 15 percent of doctors become addicted to drugs at some point during their lifetime. Not surprisingly is the fact that doctors will most often abuse prescription drugs. No matter what the reason, this behavior puts patients at risk of being the victims of medical malpractice.

According to research, stress is one of the most common reasons for a doctor to use drugs. Often, however, it starts out innocently with another physician prescribing a narcotic painkiller to a doctor who has been injured. Many doctors will then continue to write their own prescriptions from this point. However, some doctors will write their own prescriptions from the start. Unlike those not in the medical field, however, doctors have an easier access or ability to continue supporting an addiction to painkillers, once it begins.

One study indicated that nearly 69 percent of the doctors who had a substance abuse issue were addicted to narcotic painkillers. The most often abused painkillers in the study were Percocet, Oxycontin and Vicodin. However, other drugs, such as stimulants and sedatives, were abused as well.

Obviously, a physician who is addicted to drugs may not be giving his or her patients the best care possible. The potential for a doctor to make a mistake under these conditions -- one that could either seriously injure, or even kill, a patient -- is increased. Any Massachusetts patient who has been the victim of medical malpractice has the right to file civil action against the physician, in order to recover any damages. These damages could include medical bills, pain and suffering and lost wages. It may also be possible to be awarded punitive damages, if it is discovered and proved that drugs impaired the doctor when the mistake occurred.

Source: wfmj.com, Stress leads some doctors to abuse prescription drugs, Amy Norton, Oct. 11, 2013

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