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Doctors Being Held Accountable As Rate of Prescription Drug Overdose Escalates

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In California and throughout the United States, certain drugs are classified as controlled substances. Both federal and state drug control laws divide different medications into different categories of controlled substances or “drug schedules” as they are called, explains a personal injury attorney. Schedule I drugs include those, such as heroin, that have no legitimate medical use and that are very dangerous. Schedule II drugs are drugs that are dangerous and addictive but have some medical use. Schedule III drugs have a medical use but are less likely to cause significant harm or inspire addiction. Finally, Schedule IV drugs are restricted and present potential dangers but pose less risk than drugs classified as schedule I, II or III.

In order to obtain a controlled substance considered a schedule II, III or IV substance, a patient must have a valid medical prescription from a doctor. Unfortunately, some doctors are less than ethical and they make the choice to prescribe prescription medications without a legitimate medical reason to do so. Some of these doctors may not even examine the patient at all. They often work in low-rent districts or strip malls and hand out prescriptions in exchange for collecting fees. They are, essentially, glorified drug dealers and they are breaking both state and federal laws with their prescription drug abuse.

The problem of prescription drug abuse is a major one, with the National Institute on Drug Abuse estimating that as many as 20 percent of people in the United States make use of prescription drugs for non-medical reasons. Commonly abused drugs include antipsychotic drugs (Xanax, etc.), ADD or ADHD drugs (Ritalin) and pain killers (Oxycodone, etc.).

In some cases, people purchase these unnecessary prescription drugs on the black market. In other cases, however, doctors prescribe drugs to patients for a variety of reasons that have little to do with the accepted uses for the narcotics. Just one of many examples of this phenomenon is in the field of antipsychotic drugs. In 2007, doctors wrote in excess of 45 million prescriptions for antipsychotic drugs according to IMS Heath. However, these drugs are intended only for those who are schizophrenic, and the National Institute of Mental health reports that there are only 2.4 million schizophrenics in the United States.

Doctors who are handing out large amounts of prescription drugs with no legitimate medical basis may be guilty of serious drug offenses including, in some cases, drug trafficking, explains a personal injury attorney. Recently, one California doctor also found out just how serious prescription drug abuse can be. This doctor’s name is Lisa Tseng. Three of Ms. Tseng’s patients overdosed on medications that she had prescribed and she was subsequently charged with three counts of second-degree murder. The Los Angeles Times has linked the doctor to the fatal overdoses of at least eight young men. The parents of two of these men, Riley Russo and Ryan Winter, filed civil lawsuits against Tseng, alleging that she acted as a drug dealer by prescribing painkillers to them in the absence of medical conditions necessitating the drugs.

As the rate of fatal prescription drug overdose escalates in California and throughout the country, unscrupulous doctors are, fortunately, being held accountable for their contribution to the epidemic. Hopefully the threat of criminal and civil liability will serve as a deterrent to physicians considering prescribing powerful and addictive medications to those who do not need them.

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