Florida Pain Clinics and Preventable Overdose Deaths
Just a few years ago, Florida was the epicenter of a nationwide pain pill epidemic. Pain clinics, sometimes called pill mills, would see 500 patients and rake in $400,000 in profits per day. The enormously successful pill mills were linked to numerous overdose deaths across the country, as patients from other states would travel to Florida and traffic prescription narcotics.
In Broward County, Florida, the problem was so acute that pill mills outnumbered McDonald’s restaurants. At the height of the problem in 2010, South Florida had 176 pill mills, all of which dispensed powerful pain medications. In addition to having a high density of pill mills, Broward County had 18 of the 25 top oxycodone-prescribing doctors in the country.
Unsurprisingly, the number of fatal overdoses in Florida from prescription drugs increased from 2,780 in 2006 to 3,750 in 2008. Patients would go into pill mill waiting rooms, pay $150 to see a doctor, and then leave with prescriptions for drugs like oxycodone. The pill mills would not accept insurance and only took cash payments.
In a study by JAMA Internal Medicine, it was found that new regulations are helping regulate pain management clinics, reducing the high number of overdose deaths. According to an article in the Miami Herald, a year after new laws went into effect in Florida, sales for oxycodone tablets had dropped by 97 percent.
Why Doctors and Hospitals Must Be Extra Careful Prescribing Painkillers
Doctors, hospitals and other health care providers have a duty to care for the safety of patients. It is illogical to assume dispensing the most powerful pain medications available with barely any oversight is looking out for patient safety. With accidental overdoses now outnumbering car accidents as the most preventable cause of death in the United States, doctors and hospitals must take extra caution when prescribing powerful pain medications.
Shapiro Law Group – Tampa Bay Medical Malpractice Attorneys