ER Doctors Prescribe Codeine to Children Despite Warnings

Medication mistakes are a common type of medical negligence that’s especially dangerous for children. Their bodies can’t always handle the wrong kind of drug or the wrong dosage.

A recent study found that ER doctors are prescribing codeine to children in high numbers despite warnings. It’s most often prescribed as a cough suppressant or pain reliever. But this narcotic comes with risks, including an accidental overdose. Toxic amounts of morphine can enter the child’s system if it metabolizes too quickly.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has issued warnings on the dangers of codeine. Guidelines from 1997 and again in 2007 have urged doctors to avoid prescribing this drug to kids. Yet ER doctors continue to hand out prescriptions. In fact, the number of codeine prescriptions between 2001 and 2010 was logged at around 560,000 to 880,000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The authors of the study published in the journal Pediatrics estimated that every year, around 57,000 children are at risk of an accidental overdose. Also, they estimated that 250,000 children are at risk of the drug not working and therefore, getting no pain relief.

What to Do If a Prescription Drug Causes a Child to Suffer Serious Illness 

Most parents don’t question the doctor when prescribing medication. Many assume that he/she wouldn’t do it unless it was safe and expected to help. But some doctors make mistakes, more so ER doctors who are rushed. When that happens, it’s important to seek legal advice.

One way a parent can assist a lawyer is to provide the prescription and the medication bottle/container. Also, if the doctor admits making a mistake by prescribing a dangerous medication, this can help with establishing liability. However, the case must establish that a doctor violated the standard of care in prescribing the medication, which can be difficult in some cases.

After legal counsel has received all the facts and conducted an investigation, you can learn if there is a valid case. If so, it could lead to compensation in a medical malpractice claim. Don’t delay talking to a lawyer if you believe your child’s serious illness or injury stemmed from a medication mistake. Call Gacovino, Lake & Associates at 800-550-0000 to set up a consultation.

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