Just as tobacco companies were once sued for causing undue harm to smokers, those in the healthcare industry are now being sued for pushing addictive opioids. Both pharmaceutical companies and physicians are finding themselves named in lawsuits for causing an addiction. This is especially true when an expecting mother’s opioid addiction causes serious harm to her unborn child. So, does a mother who was addicted to opioids during her pregnancy have a case?
Filing a Lawsuit Against a Doctor in Ohio
There are some instances in which a mother addicted to opioids during pregnancy can file a lawsuit against a doctor. Doctors must meet a standard of care when treating their patients to ensure they remain as healthy as possible. In regards to opioids specifically, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has outlined standards of care for pregnant women seeking treatment for chronic and severe pain.
These standards state that doctors should try to avoid or minimize the use of opioids for pregnant women. Alternative pain management therapies such as exercise, physical therapy, and behavioral approaches should be recommended instead.
When a doctor goes directly against these recommendations and not only prescribes a pregnant woman opioids, but prescribes so many of them that she and her baby become addicted, the mother may have a valid case against the doctor. This does not mean, however, that she is going to automatically win that case.
This is because addiction is something that happens over time. It is unique from other medical malpractice cases because it is not a one-time event. Due to this difference, a jury will likely find that the woman had a certain amount of choice in taking the opioids. For this reason, these cases can be very difficult, although not impossible, to win.
Filing a Lawsuit Against Big Pharma for Opioid Addiction
Lawsuits filed against the pharmaceutical companies that manufacture the drugs may be more successful. This is because in the 1990s, these companies started releasing the drugs while claiming they were not addictive. Today, that is now known to be false, and there are several scientific studies to prove it.
Many municipalities in Ohio have already filed lawsuits against the big pharmaceutical companies. Mothers who file these lawsuits may have more chance at success if they were prescribed the opioids before studies indicated that the drugs were addictive. However, whether a case is viable depends on the specific facts of the case, making speaking with an attorney important.
Speak to an Attorney About Filing a Claim for a Mother Addicted to Opioids
Although these cases come with their own complications and can be difficult to win, that does not mean that is impossible. Women who became addicted to opioids during pregnancy, or who were already addicted when they became pregnant, should speak to a lawyer who can help. An attorney can review the facts of the case to determine whether it may be viable and then guide the mother throughout the case.