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JLeslie's avatar

Do you think doctors should be held responsible for their patients overdosing?

Asked by JLeslie (63083points) February 18th, 2012

If someone takes 20 oxycodone or a bunch of xanax and dies or very injured, can we blame the prescribing doctor? Let’s say the patient does have trouble with pain, or anxiety, or whatever.

Or, the doctor prescribes for a month, but somehow the patients does have some stash saved up, and eventually is taking too much on some days, a dangerous amount. And, combining drugs. More than what the doctor prescribes to be taken at a time.

Is the patient in the end responsible for these types of drugs and what they are taking?

Also, what if the patient becomes addicted, is that the doctor’s fault? If he has given proper warnings of the adfictive properties of a drug?

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22 Answers

MollyMcGuire's avatar

A great big, very loud NO.

auhsojsa's avatar

I don’t think so. Because then there would be a law that would outlaw prescriptions deemed “dangerous” It’s common sense really. Unfortunately some patients don’t list all drugs being taken. Recently a friend from middle school who was a young adult died while taking a bunch of mixed drugs provided by her doctor while in the Navy. Her husband said she wasn’t exactly being herself that week, and it ended in an attempt to hang her self. She survived that, but the damage was done and later died about 5 days later in the hospital. There was a mixture of drugs taken at once, the Navy is paying her husband for damages.

So as simple as the answer seems, it can be very tricky.

ZEPHYRA's avatar

No way, if an adult can’t be responsible for himself why should the doctor be responsible?

augustlan's avatar

I don’t think so, generally. I do think it’s a doctor’s responsibility to be aware of and to watch for signs of addiction, though. Like the patient running out of meds sooner than s/he should, you know?

Bellatrix's avatar

I agree with @augustlan. In most cases no, but they should be watching for signs of addiction and also make sure the patient is aware of the dangers of taking too much of any medication or not completing a course of medicine.

Nullo's avatar

The doc and the label both provide the proper dosage. It’s up to the patient to actually listen.

Lightlyseared's avatar

Yes. And car manufacturers should be responsible for people driving too fast, mobile phone companies should be responsible for people who drive and test at the same time, firearms manufacturers should be responsible for people who kill with their weapons, knife makers should be responsible for people who cut themselves. It would be great.

cazzie's avatar

Suicide isn’t always predictable, but when there are signs, I think all care givers need to be on the look out, but ultimately, it’s the person who swallows the pills that is responsible.

When someone takes their own life, it’s easy to look for blame somewhere else. Many close people blame themselves. An addict or a suicidal person finds a way to get what they want.

I had a horrible break up in my mid-20’s. I had built my life around this man and I was seriously jilted. I was having trouble sleeping and went to my doctor. He was concerned enough to give me just three sleeping pills, and he told me right out, if you take all three, you won’t die, you’ll just sleep longer, but promise me you’ll take one a night. I had no history of mental problems or suicide attempts, but he knew I was alone with no family to talk to. He was just concerned. I really respected that. But, this was a small town, with a doctor who knew me for years. I don’t think that kind of personal care happens much these days. Especially in the US.

I don’t think people can expect much care an attention by their doctors these days.

rooeytoo's avatar

I am a firm believer in self accountability, so I agree with the no’s.

flutherother's avatar

If you don’t use your medication as prescribed then it is certainly not your doctor’s fault.

jazmina88's avatar

absolutely not.

marinelife's avatar

Certainly not. Would a doctor be liable if the patient was texting and driving and had an accident? No.

Personal responsibility!

Keep_on_running's avatar

If the patient can’t think for themselves then yes. Otherwise no.

Kayak8's avatar

I live with chronic pain and went to a pain management specialist. I had to fill out an 18 page questionnaire that covered everything from my mental state to the cause of the pain. While I realize someone could lie on the questionnaire, the doctor also had two appointments with me (about a month apart) and assessed the issues with my foot (three cut nerves due to surgery) before ever prescribing me anything.

I think the doctor has a responsibility to assess before prescribing narcotics and to re-assess the patient at regular intervals. Folks abusing prescription pain medications make life a lot harder on those who really need them and have to jump through all sorts of hoops to be able to get them. Most doctors are pretty reluctant to prescribe pain meds these days due to the behavior of those who abuse them.

digitalimpression's avatar

No. They are very clearly labeled bottles with instructions that a box of hair could follow.

Dutchess_III's avatar

No. Just like companies who make hair dryers shouldn’t be held responsible if some one tries to dry their hair while taking a shower.

SpatzieLover's avatar

I have the same thoughts as @Kayak8 on this topic.

linguaphile's avatar

No, doctors aren’t accountable for patients who abuse or misuse their recommended prescriptive dosage, but….

If a doctor gives a patient medicines that increase likelihood of suicide when the doctor knows or even suspects the patient is already depressed and near-suicidal, then yes.

whitenoise's avatar

Maybe, but only in very specific cases.

If a doctor is or could reasonably be expected to be aware of addiction or suicidal disorders that could indicate likely abuse of the medicines, for instance.

In such cases the doctor should be wary and maybe take some precautions, such as not prescribing for a month, but only for a week. Some antidepressants may trigger suicidal behavior. The doctor should warn for that and follow up. Maybe they should not write out potential killer drugs in the same prescription.

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