Hospital Reaches Settlement With Patients Of Disgraced Pain Doctor
A hospital system has reached settlements “in principle” with the patients of one notorious pain doctor who allegedly overprescribed fentanyl to his patients, causing several deaths. The doctor has been cleared of 14 murder charges after prosecutors alleged he overprescribed the drugs to critically ill patients. All of them died, possibly intentionally.
While it’s “humane” to put a suffering dog to sleep, it is considered illegal to do the same to a human being. However, the law doesn’t care about or even acknowledge potential ironies, and it is never (ever!) within the purview of an individual doctor to make the decision to terminate a patient’s life, even if the patient has requested euthanasia.
In places that allow a patient to terminate their own life, the patient must file a petition with the government. The petition is reviewed by multiple doctors and the circumstances of the patient’s case are considered. In cases where a patient fits the criteria for euthanasia, the petition is granted and the patient is allowed to die.
There is considerable controversy over whether or not this should be allowed. However, Americans tend to believe in personal choice. Today, there is growing acceptance of euthanasia as a treatment option for the critically ill. But a doctor can still be sued by a family if his treatment protocol results in the death of their loved one, regardless of whether or not they requested death.
Analyzing the doctor’s defense
All of the patients were critically ill. All of the patients died. It became impossible for prosecutors to unravel what the drugs did versus what their failing health did. The doctor was acquitted on all of the murder charges filed against him. However, he has surrendered his medical license in Ohio where he practiced (he could still end up in Florida) and the hospital has paid out nearly $20 million in settlements to families.
Essentially, the doctor could not argue that the patients asked him to suicide them because that is still illegal. The argument would, however, have done a considerable amount of damage to their personal injury claim. Because the defense, however, admits to criminal conduct, it was not used. This placed the hospital in the awkward position of admitting that the doctor had overprescribed dangerous medication resulting in the deaths of as many as 12 patients.
At this point, the defense of the doctor is a foregone conclusion and the attorneys representing the hospital are attacking the individual claims made by specific plaintiffs in the attempt to reduce the overall settlement amount. They can say things like, “this person would have died anyway” or “doctors routinely write prescriptions for this amount in such situations.” The prosecution would have then focused on how the painkillers accelerated the deaths of the patients. But it didn’t get that far.
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Alan Goldfarb, P.A. represents the interest of Miami plaintiffs who have been injured by negligent actors. Call our Miami personal injury lawyers today to schedule an appointment and learn more about filing a Miami personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit.