Opioids are Top Type of Medication Accounting for the Most Medical Malpractice Claims
Opioid painkillers account for more medical-malpractice claims related to drug errors than any other drug class, according to a new study recently released by the medical liability insurer Coverys. This study also illustrates the far-reaching effects of the opioid abuse epidemic.
The company analyzed more than 10,000 closed malpractice claims from 2012 through 2016. Twenty-four percent of medication-related claims involved opioids, even though these drugs accounted for only about 5% of prescription drugs dispensed in 2016, according to published data from QuintilesIMS, a firm that tracks pharmaceutical activity. The next riskiest drug class identified by Coverys was blood thinners, at 14% of medication-related claims.
In claims involving opioids, "overdoses are primarily what we see," said study coauthor Robert Hanscom, vice president of business analytics at Coverys. Some claimants also alleged that they became addicted to painkillers. In more than a third of the opioid-related claims, the mistake occurred during the follow-up phase of prescribing. "Physicians continued to renew prescriptions without monitoring patients to see if they were getting better or not if there were any changes in their clinical status,"