Wrongful death claims are something never contemplated by most Oregonians. However, due to the prevalence of medical mistakes and malpractice, it is important for residents to be aware of their legal rights should a family member be the victim of a fatal mistake. This is more important than ever in light of new statistics relating to drug overdose deaths.
According to a recent report released by Trust for America's Health, the rate of drug overdose deaths has doubled in Oregon between 1999 and 2010. Oregon is 21st on the list of the states with the highest rate of drug overdoses. This accounts for nearly 13 deaths per 100,000 people. In Oregon and many other states, drug overdose deaths exceed those in fatal motor vehicle accidents.
According to the report, the cause for the increase is the rise in prescription drug overdose deaths. The number of deaths caused by prescription drugs totals more than cocaine and heroin combined. In many cases, prescription drug overdoses are the result of malpractice or negligence on behalf of healthcare workers. Doctors may overprescribe prescription drugs or write a prescription that causes a fatal drug interaction. Medical professionals such as pharmacists can also be responsible for patient death. Pharmacists may negligently fill a prescription, and give an unknowing patient the wrong medication or dosage.
Wrongful death due to a prescription drug overdose is often a preventable tragedy. Family members of a victim killed by the negligence of a doctor or other medical professional may be entitled to file a lawsuit to recover on behalf of their loved one. Wrongful death lawsuits cannot undo medical mistakes, but they can provide compensation for survivors.
Source: Statesman Journal, "Oregon drug overdose deaths double," Saerom Yoo, Oct. 8, 2013