Opioids: Physician and University Employer Liable for Patient's Addiction; Court Upholds $15M Punitive Damages, $1.74M Compensatory Damages

March 5, 2018 | Strategic Insights for Ambulatory Care


​A Missouri court of appeals affirmed a jury award of $15 million in punitive damages and $1.7 million in compensatory damages against a primary care physician and his employer, a medical university. The jury found that the defendants breached the standard of care by providing "chronic opioid" therapy between 2008 and 2012 to a patient who complained of lower back pain and causing him to become drug dependent. The physician initially prescribed hydrocodone, then added "continuous acting" OxyContin (oxycodone), and later "immediate acting" OxyContin.

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