Errors when prescribing opioids may constitute medical malpractice that can lead to the death of a patient. In the US, the use of opioids to treat chronic non-cancer pain has increased dramatically in recent years and because of their highly addictive nature, some patients may use prescribed opioids for non-medical purposes increasing their risk for injury or death.
Providers may make multiple errors when prescribing opioids for non-cancer pain. Most common errors are inadequate screening for safe and effective opioid use, inability to monitor adherence, improper selection of opioids and insufficient consideration of co-morbid conditions.
In a recent case study, Web Morbidity and Mortality analyses the case of a 42 year old man who died of an overdose after doctors did not follow appropriate prescription practices.