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CDC guidelines to reduce opioid overdose may cause malpractice

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has drafted proposed guidelines for prescribing opioids to prevent addiction and overdoses. However, this could have a troubling impact on doctors in New Mexico and across the rest of the country, because some medical professionals believe that the guidelines make prescriptions a priority over patient treatment, which could lead to medical malpractice.

Doctors are working toward an environment of treatment that redefines and reclassifies chronic pain conditions based on body systems. Nearly 100 classifications for pain levels exist for the musculoskeletal system alone, and all of them could potentially lead to long-term treatment. The health care system uses a concept of medicating patients to prevent conditions that cause acute pain from progressing to the level of disability or chronic pain. However, the long-term prescribing of opioids could have a negative impact on some patients.

A CDC review of injury and death data indicates that hospital or doctor care is the third-biggest danger to patients. These cases include wrong diagnosis, failure to rescue, improper surgeries, wrong prescribing, infections acquired in hospitals and other forms of medical negligence, all of which the patients have no control over. Overdose on prescriptions is not even one of the top 15. However, the drafted CDC guidelines recommend that patients with non-traumatic acute pain only be prescribed a three-day supply or less of opioids, which may not meet the individual needs of some patients. Not providing them enough prescriptions to treat their individual condition based on behaviors or characteristics that are unrelated to them could be tantamount to malpractice.

Sometimes a medical mistake is made because test results get mixed up or are not properly translated, leading to the patient receiving an improper diagnosis and treatment. When negligence is involved in the cause of these types of medical errors, the patient might want to meet with an attorney to explore the legal remedies for seeking compensation that might be available.

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