Court Says Patients May Sue Providers for Enabling Their Addictions
May 29, 2015 | Strategic Insights for Ambulatory Care
The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals ruled that patients are entitled to sue providers who prescribe controlled substances for purportedly enabling their addictions and criminal activity, even if patients reported having addictions and pursuing criminal activity prior to receiving the prescription. The case involved 29 patients who brought eight civil actions against three pharmacies, four physicians, and the medical center where they received prescriptions for pain medication. Most patients said they initially sought treatment for injuries sustained in the workplace or in car accidents. The patients alleged that they became addicted as a result of the physicians' negligent prescribing practices and the pharmacies' inappropriate dispensing of the drugs. They also contended that many of the plaintiffs engaged in criminal activity to obtain more of the medication as a result of the improper prescribing and dispensing.