Baltimore Auto Injury News: State and Local Authorities Focus on Over-prescribing of Medication

Responsibility for injury accidents can take many forms. For traffic collisions, automobile and trucking-related wrecks the focus is usually on the driver who allegedly caused the accident to occur in the first place. But as many have noticed, news articles and television stories abound with references to bars and restaurants that may have over-served a patron prior to that person getting into a drunken driving-related car crash.

As a Maryland auto accident lawyer and Washington, D.C. personal injury attorney, I have seen instances where a third party may have contributed in some way to a car, commercial truck or motorcycle collision. While personal responsibility is certainly a laudable trait, as consumers and patients we rely on and expect other professionals to provide us with safe products and advice.

A news article that we ran across recently speaks to the growing problem of medications being over-prescribed by some healthcare professionals. Based on that article, doctors who prescribe frequently-abused drugs are facing more and more scrutiny. Considering the number of drug DUI arrests that take place every year, this sounds like a good idea.

The article in question describes one case in which a 30-year-old patient apparently told his physician that he lost his prescriptions for Valium and Percocet on more than one occasion. One time, according to the author, the man said that his pills were scattered across the roadway following a car accident. On another, the same patient was apparently re-prescribed the identical medication after he told his doctor that his initial prescription was “no good” and that he had “returned” the defective meds to the pharmacy. In another instance, the man’s wife called the doctor saying that the couple’s home had been searched by “the authorities” hnd that the medication turned up missing following the visit.

In each of these instances, according to the article, one of two doctors at a Maryland orthopedic practice in Prince George’s County refilled the patient’s prescription. According to the Maryland Board of Physicians, over more than 20 years these two doctors gave that one patient 275 prescriptions, mostly for Percocet, a powerful painkiller that can be very addictive.

From time to time that patient would even get multiple prescriptions for the same drug on the same day. In one month alone, the doctors reportedly wrote the man 11 Percocet prescriptions totaling more than 700 pills. And this is just one story out of many here in Maryland.

The article goes on to state that certain doctors not only prescribe some medications far more often than their peers, but these same physicians apparently have long histories of being sanctioned by professional disciplinary boards for unethical or unprofessional behavior – such as overprescribing meds to patients who may have been using them to get high instead of well.

The most problematic of the drugs being over-prescribed, according to some experts, are the opioid analgesics. This category of prescription medication apparently is more popular than marijuana among teenagers these days. A 2006 federal study indicates that these drugs have been flowing in rather large quantities from retail pharmacies at ever increasing rates. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, prescriptions for two of the most common opioids — hydrocodone and oxycodone — quadrupled between 1991 and 2009.

Doctors who prescribe oft-abused drugs face scrutiny,, January 1, 2011

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