Drug Overdose Leads to Illinois Medical Malpractice Suit

The Madison St. Clair Record reported this weekend on a new Illinois medical malpractice lawsuit that was filed by a Southern Illinois mother. According to the report, the plaintiff in the case is the daughter of the victim who apparently died after overdosing on narcotics. The suit was filed against the doctor who prescribed the drugs which led to the woman’s death. These types of Illinois wrongful death lawsuits are often the most heart-wrenching because nothing is more traumatic than the accidental death of a loved one.

The plaintiff in this case is actually a minor, meaning that the suit is technically filed on her behalf through her “guardians and next friends.” The lawsuit was filed earlier this month in a southern Illinois state court. The complaint argues that the defendant-doctor treated the deceased woman for a roughly three month period in late 2006. The doctor allegedly provided various medical services for the woman which included providing medication prescriptions.

In the middle of December the women apparently died from “an overdose of controlled substances.” The suit argues that the doctor’s negligence played a role in the death in a range of ways. The complaint suggests that the doctor was negligent in not obtaining a proper medical history of the patient, not monitoring her use of the substance, and failing to do a proper medical exam on the woman. In addition the plaintiff is arguing that the doctor should have noticed the warning signs that the woman had developed a substance abuse problem. The suit further alleges that the doctor reasonably should have responded in some way to those clear signs of substance abuse.

Our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers understand that these types of Illinois medical malpractice suits are somewhat different than the standard cases that most think of when they envision these situations. It is similar to all other malpractice cases where negligent conduct is alleged. However, unlike most other cases, the negligence here is not related to common medical tasks like diagnosis, proper conduct during surgery, and similar actions. Instead, this situation involves failure to notice signs of substance abuse.

At first blush it might be unclear how the doctor could face liable for injuries caused by self overdose of medication. However, it is a well establish principle that doctors play an important intermediary role in controlling dangerous substance like certain medications. After all, that is exactly why these sorts of drugs cannot be obtained over-the-counter but instead can only be doled out with the approval of a doctor for specific medical reasons.

When the doctor fails to properly examine a patient or prescribe drugs to one who may be harmed by them, than the doctor may have violate the reasonable standards of care. In that case, those hurt (including surviving relatives of the deceased) can seek redress from the physician. Accountability in these cases is crucial, because it helps those injured heal and ensures doctors who dangerously dole out medications are forced to stopped their practices before others are hurt.

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