$500,000 Recovered for Death by Opioids

General, Wrongful Death

In a lawsuit against the primary physician of a Syracuse, New York, patient who died as a result of an accidental overdose of Percocet, damages of $500,000 was awarded to the patient’s surviving child for the loss of parental guidance, nurturing and advice.

Percocet is a prescription pain medication that combines oxycodone and acetaminophen and is intended only for acute, severe pain relief.  Percocet depresses the central nervous system and can cause dangerous outcomes, including decreased breathing, low blood pressure, organ failure and death.

The 48-year-old patient’s past medical history was significant for addiction to opioids and the patient lost her license as a registered nurse due to her substance abuse.  Despite her substance abuse history, the patient’s primary care physician prescribed Percocet for over 3 years. In the final 12 months before her accidental overdose, her primary care physician prescribed opioids without any face-to-face encounters with the patient.

In the lawsuit, the decedent’s family members contended that the primary care physician was negligent for prescribing additive pain relief medication for a patient with a history of substance abuse. The plaintiff also contended that the primary care physician was negligent in failing to have any face-to-face encounters with the patient over the final year of treatment during which he continued to issue prescriptions for Percocet electronically.

According to the National Institutes of Health, “Physicians bear responsibility for careful and conscientious prescribing, which includes patient assessment, communication, and education. That responsibility may be heightened in the case of opioids.”